Fixture pile-up won't cost Exiles automatic promotion, says boss Justin Edinburgh

NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh is concerned about the Exiles' mounting fixture pile-up, but doesn't believe it'll cost them automatic promotion, as it did a year ago.

County's clash with Dagenham on Saturday was the third in a month at Rodney Parade to be washed out.

It means Newport have between one and three games in hand on the sides around them with the threat of further problems as flooding continues across the UK.

Last term it was a similar story for County who saw several games postponed, including a farcical scenario with Gateshead.

At one stage the Exiles were forced to play on the road three times in six days and their pleas to the Conference to extend the season or sanction Gateshead were rejected.

With just one automatic promotion berth Newport lost ground on Mansfield (and then Kidderminster) that they weren't able to retrieve.

However, despite admitting the backlog is a concern, Edinburgh is much more bullish about how his squad will cope this time around.

Three teams are promoted from League Two outright with a top seven spot good enough for the play-offs. And Edinburgh also feels home comfort will be integral.

Newport have already played 14 away games this season, the joint highest number of fixtures on the road in the division, but have only contested 10 games at Rodney Parade, the outright lowest number of matches.

"It isn't ideal, we have probably reached one postponement too many now and it's frustrating," Edinburgh admitted.

"We can't control the weather and all the games in the west were off on Saturday but I can't pretend it's brilliant and we enjoy not playing.

"But I am certainly not thinking it's a big problem. The main difference to last season is that we have extra games that are at home.

"The travelling and disruption to the routine that the players like is more of a problem and home games are obviously what you would choose.

"We've got a very good home record (despite only playing 10 games, Newport have the joint second most victories at home with seven) and there are more games where the challengers take points off each other as well.

"And with the squad coming back to being a full group, which we haven't really been close to all season, it gives us confidence."

However, Edinburgh did also admit Newport will need to be at full strength.

"It's important that we have all the players back and everyone available to us in the coming weeks," he explained.

"Because we will reach a stage of the season where we are playing Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday a lot and that is when players will pick up injuries.

"You expect strains and scrapes when you play every three games so we'll need everyone available to cope with that."

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