LOAN star Tyreeq Bakinson believes the hard work is starting to pay off for Newport County AFC, but he knows there are plenty of big battles ahead.

Bakinson helped County to beat second-placed Mansfield Town as they returned to winning ways in League Two on Saturday.

The Exiles have a massive FA Cup fifth-round clash with Premier League champions Manchester City to look forward to at the weekend.

But first they will look to build on the win over Mansfield with another three points against MK Dons at Rodney Parade tomorrow.

And Bakinson know he has to perform to keep his place against the City superstars in the cup.

The 20-year-old told iFollow Exiles: “We’re very happy with the performance [against Mansfield].

“We’ve been working really hard and it’s great that it’s paid off.

“I feel like we’ve been unlucky with some of the recent results, it’s improved now and given us a chance to really push on in the league and the cup.

“Playing to that intensity twice in a week is tough, you get tired, but we recover really well between games so it’s not too bad.

“And there are players fighting extremely hard to get into the team so we know we have to play to our best to keep the shirt.”

Bakinson, who has made 34 appearances since joining on loan from Bristol City in August, is relishing the City tie but he insists the players won’t take their eye off the ball in the league.

“You always want to play in the big games – like Manchester City – but we know we have to work hard in training and the games to get in the team,” he said.

“We’re really looking forward to the match on Saturday but at the same time there’s an arguably more important game on Tuesday [against MK Dons].

“It’s a big incentive for us to beat teams above us in the table because it then allows us to go higher – that’s where we want to be.

“With our team, we never give up so there’s always a chance of the play-offs,” he added.

“We just want to kick on in the league, we’ll work as hard as we have been to try and achieve that, and also carry on this good run.”

South Wales Argus:

Fans queued for hours in the wind and the rain last week to get their hands on tickets for the City tie, with some even camping out overnight at Rodney Parade.

And Bakinson is adamant that the supporters can make a big difference in the league over the coming months.

“We just need the fans to keep on getting behind us and we’ll keep working hard to get the points and climbing up the table,” he said.

“The supporters really are our 12th man, they help us out a lot, especially when it’s packed, and it gives you that bit of extra energy to work harder.”

Meanwhile, County will welcome Manchester United legend Paul Scholes to Newport on March 23 after the 44-year-old was appointed manager of their League Two rivals Oldham Athletic.

And Michael Flynn's men could come up against a familiar face at Morecambe on the final day of the season after Exiles academy graduate Aaron Collins joined The Shrimps following his release by Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Read more: Exiles boss may need to 'freshen up' team for MK Dons test