NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn took a tumble on the ice outside Dragon Park ahead of training earlier this week, but he’s hoping it will be opposite number Tony Pulis who slips up on Saturday.

Flynn and his coaching staff, including assistant manager Wayne Hatswell and management consultant Lennie Lawrence, believe they have prepared the County players to cause another big FA Cup shock against Pulis’ Middlesbrough.

The squad will go through final preparations at St George’s Park tomorrow morning but the hard work has all been done with the analysts and the game-plan is in place.

“It’s going to be a physical battle,” said Flynn. “We’ll have to defend well from set-plays and pick up the second balls.

“We’ve got to go there and try to frustrate them. We’ve got to start bright, stick to our game-plan, have the courage of our convictions to pass the ball and move them about, and let’s hope that we can create some good chances and we take them.”

South Wales Argus:

An early goal, like Jamille Matt’s against Leicester City in the third round, would add to the sense of unrest amongst Middlesbrough fans after their recent struggles at home in the Championship.

Flynn will hope to add to Pulis’ problems at the Riverside, but he feels Boro fans should have more patience.

“Tony’s teams are always fit and strong but they’ve got a lot of good players and they do play football,” said the Exiles boss.

“He gets tarnished with a certain style of play, but he wins football matches.

“You’ve only got to see what’s happened to Stoke and West Brom since he’s left – they’re both in the Championship.

“Middlesbrough are in a play-off position and I’m sure they’ll be there or thereabouts come the end of the season because they’ve got a proven manager and some really good players.”

Flynn and Pulis both hail from Pill in Newport and have a good relationship, but there will be no quarter given this weekend.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for Tony, but I’ll be trying to beat him,” said Flynn.

“And he’ll want the same, he’ll want to keep me quiet!

“But you’ve got to look at the bigger picture for them as well – their ultimate goal is to get back into the Premier League, and so it should be.

“I’m hoping he rests players, but whoever he brings in is going to be of good quality because they’re Championship players.

“Leicester rested a few but they were still Premier League players.

“We showed that, on our day, we can upset the odds and do ourselves proud.”

South Wales Argus:

The likes of Daniel Ayala, Paddy McNair, George Friend and Britt Assombalonga (above) are likely to start for Boro.

“It gives us a better chance [if he rests players] but we’ve prepared as if it’s their strongest team and their best players,” said Flynn.

“They beat Peterborough 5-0 [in the third round] and he won’t be doing us any favours, that’s for sure. Tony’s ruthless and he’s a winner.

“We’ve not had much contact this week,” he added. “He’s a professional and so am I.

“We’re not friends this week, there’ll be no good luck messages before the game.

“Afterwards, I know he’ll look after us and he’ll make us feel welcome. That’s the kind of man he is; he’s driven, he’s passionate and he’s definitely not soft.”

The pressure is all on Pulis and Boro at home but Flynn wants his players to do themselves proud.

“We put pressure on ourselves,” he said. “We want to represent the club in the right way and the players want to go out and express themselves and show that they can match themselves up against one of the top Championship teams.

“I’m under no illusions that, if they’re on their game and we aren’t, it could be a similar scoreline [to their 5-0 win over Peterborough].

“If we have a good day and they’re a little bit below par, that’s when it gets interesting.”

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