MANSFIELD V COUNTY (Tomorrow, KO 3pm)
NEWPORT County AFC boss Justin Edinburgh has several selection headaches for tomorrow’s trip to Mansfield Town – and he couldn’t be happier.
The Exiles travel to face a Stags side that battered them 5-0 in the corresponding fixture last term, desperate for a positive start to their third campaign in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The Exiles manager wants his side to create momentum ahead of their bow at new ground Rodney Parade and insists he’s looking for a win at Field Mill even though the hosts are the second favouirtes (behind Luton) to win promotion back into the Football League.
It’s a daunting trip and contains several dilemmas for Edinburgh, but he’s extremely content with that scenario.
“We are looking to go there and get something, be that a point or all three points,” he said.
“It’s a tough opening game but certainly not one we are fearful of, nor are we fearful of any other fixture in this division.
“The group of players we’ve assembled are physically and mentally tougher than last season and fitness-wise I feel like they are ready to go as well.
“It’s been a tough but enjoyable pre-season, we’ve avoided any serious muscle injuries and I am feeling good about things.
“We want people to come to Rodney Parade and support us and so we need to set a marker. The greater incentive we can give the fans to come and watch the better and a good result at Mansfield would be a great start.”
Only goalkeeper Alan Julian is definitely ruled out with a knee injury picked up just seven minutes into the Exiles’ very first pre-season game at Undy Athletic.
Julian is still several weeks away and fellow new sigining Lenny Pidgeley will deputise with Joe Perry, son of ex-County defender Jason, on the bench.
Ismail Yakubu has returned from wrist surgery and will be vying with Andrew Hughes for a start alongside debutant Tony James.
Lee Minshull has recovered from a slight strain but is unlikely to make the starting XI anyway, Max Porter and Mike Flynn seemingly in pole position for a start alongside either teen ace Lee Evans or new signing Jake Thomson – a battle Evans could shade.
In attack, Edinburgh must leave out two from five with Jake Harris, Danny Crow, Jefferson Louis, Ryan Charles and Aaron O’Connor all available.
“We’ve been lucky on the injury front,” added Edinburgh. “Alan Julian’s knee could’ve happened at any time but we’ve kept muscle injuries to a minimum.
“Aaron O’Connor and Mike Flynn both had a bug this week and couldn’t train but we’d hope that would pass in time for Saturday and that it hasn’t spread around the camp.
“I expect them to be available and that means we’ve got competition for virtually every position and that’s exactly how I would want it. It’s been a long old summer with lots happening, now we just can’t wait to play again.”