MANAGER James Rowberry has told his Newport County AFC players they can’t use the excuse of a silent Rodney Parade as an excuse for a poor performance, even if it gives Salford City a lift.

The Exiles return to football behind closed doors for the League Two fixture against the Ammies this afternoon.

Welsh government restrictions mean that Rowberry’s side will be denied the backing that helped them to stirring comeback wins against Sutton and Port Vale last month.

“Rodney Parade is a fortress with how the fans support us, get behind us and help us,” said the boss.

“Will have an effect and help the opposition? Of course it will, but it's how we counteract that through our experiences last season.

“I had experience of it at Cardiff, which is a 32,000-seater stadium that was empty. I am used to coaching in games with no supporters.

South Wales Argus: County boss James RowberryCounty boss James Rowberry

“The benefits are that the players will be able to hear me more, which some of them are disappointed with!

“It will be tough without fans but we've got to create our own atmosphere and know they will be supporting us while watching on iFollow.

“We are professionals, we have experienced it before and have a job to do. We won't use the excuse of there being no fans, we've got to get on with it and perform to the best of our ability.”

There is no end date to the ban on fans with County also hosting Harrogate and Barrow this month.

Then then have a run of five Parade fixtures on the spin that starts on February 12, a spell that is vital for the club financially and in sporting terms with a promotion bid.

“We see the month of February as a real chance to drive forward with the amount of home games that we have got,” said Rowberry.

“Whether fans are with us or not, one thing we have got is a top-quality pitch so we will be able to enforce our game on the opposition.”

“We want fans back quickly, we are desperate for that as a football club but we want it to be safe as well,” he added.