AFTER the dampest of damp squibs in the FA Cup at Wrexham on Saturday, Newport County AFC return to the rather less glamorous Checkatrade Trophy tonight when they make the short trip to Cheltenham Town.

There will be no BT Sport cameras at Whaddon Road and a fraction of the 5,295 crowd that generated a decent atmosphere at The Racecourse Ground.

The Trophy is a competition that has fewer friends than Theresa May and it's pretty low on the agenda for most clubs.

Despite the £20,000 prize money of offer, County manager Michael Flynn has already made it clear how he is approaching tonight’s tie.

“I might have to play a couple of the youngsters,” said the Exiles boss. “That’s the way it’s going to have to be.

“Listen, you can’t have it all. When you’ve got a small squad like us, you’ve got to be choosy and I might play a few [key men] and [still] lose.

“There are no guarantees and no right or wrong answers. I’ve got to do what I think is best for my players and for us going forward.”

That is a perfectly understandable position for Flynn to take and one that will be familiar to managers up and down the country who are working with limited resources.

Joss Labadie is set to get some minutes tonight but with Tyler Forbes, Scot Bennett, Matty Dolan, Robbie Willmott and Keanu Marsh-Brown all out injured you can see why Flynn would want to protect his other key players.

You could even argue that it would be irresponsible of Flynn not to rest some of his main men.

But this is a game that County should be aiming to win, whoever takes to the pitch, and it was encouraging to hear Padraig Amond talk about the much-derided competition being a realistic target for the Exiles.

"We want to win the competition,” said the striker. “It’s a great chance for us to get to Wembley and win a trophy at Wembley.

"How many chances do you get to win a trophy at Wembley?”

The answer, if you’re a League Two footballer, is not many and it would be a shame if County threw away that chance.

The League Two trip to Swindon Town this weekend and the FA Cup replay at home to Wrexham are undoubtedly more important to the club and Flynn is right to manage his resources accordingly.

But the impact of a good run in the Trophy shouldn’t be underestimated.

As well as bringing in some much-needed money, a Wembley final would be another big boost to County’s profile both locally and nationally.

And history shows that it can also act as a springboard for success in the league.

Swansea City won it in 2006 before their rise through the divisions, as did Southampton in 2009

Coventry City lifted the trophy in 2017 before winning promotion back to League One last season and 2018 winners Lincoln City are on course for a top-three spot in League Two this season.

“The Checkatrade Trophy is a great competition,” said Imps boss Danny Cowley.

“It's a really good opportunity for us to continue to develop young players. It is a great opportunity for some of the young players at the top clubs to be able to experience first-team football for the first time.

“It's a good opportunity for clubs in League Two to compete against these players, and it gives young players a pathway.

“As well as that, it gives the clubs in the lower leagues an opportunity to earn prize money and maybe have a trip to Wembley off the back of it.

“We've made really good money throughout the rounds and being able to get to Wembley, and then having some of the gate receipts certainly helped the club and it helped us in terms of recruitment this summer.”

Welshman Nathan Jones is also a fan of the Trophy after leading Luton Town to the semi-finals in 2017 before clinching promotion to League One last season.

“I really like the competition, it's an excellent competition and it's getting better,” said the Hatters boss.

“The format early on had certain flaws but they were ironed out and it's a really competitive competition. Sides are really now seeing it's a real way to Wembley and it's a realistic competition to win for League One and League Two teams.

“Everyone wants to get as far as they can and be ambitious in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup, but this is the realistic way to have a cup run and it gets very interesting towards the latter rounds.”

You can't have it all but it's a competition that shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.