NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh has hit back at Southport boss Liam Watson ahead of their clash at Rodney Parade this afternoon.

The visiting manager appeared to suggest earlier this week that he believed the Exiles were no better than last season, when they finished a lowly 19th in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Speaking to the Southport Visiter, Watson said: “Newport are doing well but we don’t worry about them or going down there.

“I don’t see an awful lot of difference from their side last season but give credit where credit is due.

“But we will go there and get at them.”

The facts don’t support that point of view with County riding high at the top of the table with six wins from nine games and an entirely different team from the last time Southport came to Newport.

The Sandgrounders were the visitors to Spytty Park in October last year for Edin-burgh’s first match in charge after replacing Anthony Hudson.

And of the 16 players who made up the match day squad on that occasion only substitutes And-rew Hughes and Matthew Swan are still at the club.

Edinburgh is reluctant to be drawn into a war of words but admits to being mystified by Watson’s comment.

“I’m not really interested in what other teams say about us – we’ll just concentrate on ourselves and do our talking on the pitch,” he said. “But I did see it and it’s a strange comment and a bit of an insult really.

“The personnel has changed completely from last season and we’re at the top of the league instead of the bottom, but each to their own.”

Edinburgh was delighted with last week’s 3-0 win at Barrow and has predicted that striker Danny Crow will be a regular scorer after breaking his duck with a brace against the Bluebirds.

“Any striker is desperate to score goals and I’m sure Crowy will be pleased to have got that monkey off his back,” said Edinburgh.

“He’s a fantastic footballer and he’s already shown that with his all-round play and the amount of goals he’s created, but there’s no doubt I brought him in to score goals and I’m sure we’ll see many more from him now.

“The two last week were superb, one a sublime chip and the other a poacher’s goal.

“It was just a shame he missed out on a hat-trick with the penalty. Andy Sandell will remain as our penalty taker.”

Edinburgh is not expecting Southport to follow the gameplan of previous visitors Stockport, who were more than satisfied with a 0-0 draw two weeks ago.

“I think Southport are hitting a bit of form so they’ll probably be a bit more positive than Stockport were,” he said.

“I hope it will be a bit more open but we’ve got to cope when teams come to our place and play for a draw.

“It’s a sign of respect really and we have to be patient in order to overcome that challenge.”

Edinburgh has a fully fit squad to pick from apart from long-term absentee Alan Julian and is likely to keep faith with the team that started at Barrow.

Julian has had what Edinburgh describes as a “setback” in his rehabilitation from a knee injury picked up in pre-season and the Exiles boss revealed that he will discuss a permanent contract with fellow goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley this week.

“Alan Julian is probably out for another four weeks now so I will sit down with Lenny and talk about making him a permanent fixture at the club,” he said.

“Lenny has done superbly since he came in on a short-term deal and the board have given me their backing again to sign him up.”