NEWPORT County AFC boss James Rowberry knows from experience that Sutton United will be a tough nut to crack at Rodney Parade on Tuesday.

The League Two new boys have enjoyed an impressive first half of the campaign since their promotion from the National League.

Sutton sit sixth in the table, three places and four points above the Exiles, and Rowberry got an early indication of how strong they would be in 2021/22.

The manager has been at the Newport helm since October after leaving his role as first team coach at Championship club Cardiff, who sneaked past United 3-2 in the Carabao Cup in the capital.

County are hoping for a third promotion bid in four seasons but Rowberry knows they will be tested by Sutton at the start of a busy December.

"I know Matt Gray because I did my League Managers Association diploma with him and when I was at Cardiff we played them in the League Cup in August," said the boss, who watched them lose 2-1 at Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup on Saturday.

"I know what they are going to be like. They will be organised, well-drilled, they play 4-4-2 and are very functional and purposeful in what they do."

County struggled to break down Crawley last month and Sutton will present a similar challenge.

Made with Flourish

"First of all, we have got to try and match their physicality, then we've got to try and do what we do well," said Rowberry.

"As the cliché goes, we have to earn the right to play. We will be as we always are, aggressive in our approach.

"We will focus mainly on our ourselves and our principles but we will also look to work on their strengths and trying to exploit areas where we feel that we can get at them."

Rowberry took 11 points from a possible 18 after taking the top job at County, winning his first three games before a loss to Swindon and away draws at Crawley and Colchester.

They host Sutton in midweek and then welcome promotion-chasing Port Vale to Newport on Saturday.

"I am excited to have some games at home because it's been a crazy start with only two games at Rodney Parade in eight games since being here," said Rowberry.

"It's been incredible really with a lot of travelling, so I am looking forward to this run of games and the fans getting behind us to help us in what we are trying to do."

County will have captain Matty Dolan back from a head injury that forced the defender to sit out the 1-1 draw at Colchester while midfielder Ed Upson is back from suspension.

That gives Rowberry & Co two more welcome selection headaches because stalwarts Scot Bennett and Robbie Willmott took their spots in Essex after returning from a foot injury and coronavirus respectively.

League Two fixtures: Bristol Rovers v Port Vale, Exeter v Northampton, Harrogate v Forest Green, Leyton Orient v Swindon, Mansfield v Carlisle, County v Sutton, Oldham v Tranmere, Stevenage v Scunthorpe, Walsall v Crawley