MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Pulis says he has “great respect” for Newport County AFC and manager Michael Flynn, but he won’t be doing his hometown club any favours on Saturday afternoon.

Pulis, aged 61, and 38-year-old Flynn both hail from Pill and the Boro boss is a big fan of how his opposite number has gone about his business at Rodney Parade.

He’s relishing the prospect of welcoming County and Flynn to the Riverside Stadium for Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie.

But Pulis says the hospitality will be limited until after the match against the club he watched as a boy and played for in the 1980s.

“The story of them coming back after dropping down the leagues is a fabulous story and Michael’s done a great job there, I’ve got great respect for Michael,” Pulis told the Teesside Gazette.

“Obviously he’s a couple of generations younger than me but he’s from Baldwin Street, just four or five streets from where I was brought up.

“Michael’s done a fantastic job there and I think Lennie Lawrence behind the scenes will be helping Michael along the way.

“He’s a fantastic lad, got great experience and I’ve got great respect for Lennie.

“Mike rang me up and left me a text message,” added Pulis. “I told him I’d look after him, AFTER the game!”

Pulis could rest some key players against the Exiles as he prioritises the club’s Championship promotion bid, but he’s expecting a battle against Flynn’s men.

“They are physically strong,” he said. “They’ve got good balance in the team and players that can cause you problems, irrespective of what league they're in.”

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But Saturday is about more than just 90 minutes for Pulis, who will have plenty of friends and family travelling up from Newport for the game.

“When the draw was made, I got a text from Debs [Pulis’ wife] saying: ‘Oh my God it’s going to cost you a fortune’ and it is,” he revealed. “All my friends are coming up, and family as well.”

Pulis has not forgotten his roots and he’s adamant that his tough upbringing in Newport has made him the man he is today.

“In respect of my football life, I built everything that I’ve done on that area” he said.

“I was brought up down the docks and I had a fantastic upbringing. We had nothing but we had everything. I think people know there was eight of us living in a three-bedroomed terraced house.

“Up until I was 15 there was four of us sleeping in one bed. So it was four boys in one room, my two sisters slept in the other room and my mum and dad slept in the box room so that’s the way we were brought up.

“It was a fantastic childhood, I’ve got great memories of the area and everything else.

“Football was obviously massive. The local team I played for was only five minutes away so I was always down there playing football with my friends.”

If a career in professional football hadn’t materialised, Pulis says he would have ended up working at Newport docks.

“Dad worked in Whitehead Steelworks,” he recalled.

“Where I lived, at the bottom of the road was the railway that took all the coal down from the Valleys to the steelworks and to the docks.

“Dad had put my name down to get an apprenticeship in the docks when I was very young. He thought that being an apprentice down at the docks was the best job you could ever get, being a docker. But it went the other way, I got offered a contract and left when I turned 16.”

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And, after two spells with Bristol Rovers and a brief stint in Hong Kong, Pulis spent two years at County between 1984 and 1986 before going on to play for Gillingham and AFC Bournemouth – the club where he began his managerial career.

“I had a great time at Newport,” said Pulis. “I played with some great players: Leighton James, Bob Latchford, David Giles, Linden Jones, Mark Kendall, Terry Boyle, John Relish, some really, really good players. They were a good team.”

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