NEWPORT County AFC have not given up hope of claiming a League Two play-off place, with nine wins from the remaining 13 games the target to seal a top-seven spot.

County are currently 15th in the table on 46 points – eight points below seventh-placed Forest Green Rovers with a game in hand.

Nine wins would earn the Exiles a further 27 points and take them to a total of 73, which is usually enough to secure a place in the play-offs.

Over the last 10 seasons, the average final tally for the seventh-placed team in the fourth tier is 71.2 points.

Victory over eighth-placed Carlisle United at Rodney Parade this afternoon would be a major boost after last week’s defeat at automatic promotion hopefuls MK Dons.

And assistant manager Wayne Hatswell insists that County won’t give up the fight.

“We’ve still got a hell of a lot to play for,” said Hatswell.

“It’s in our hands. We’ve got to go again and we’ve just got to believe that we can do it.

“We’ve got to try to win our home games and pick up a couple of wins away from home, which we’re more than capable of doing.

“And maybe we just need that little bit of luck as well.”

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Hatswell admits that last week’s loss at Stadium MK was a setback and that a win today is vital.

“We’re always tough to beat at home and we need to start by beating Carlisle or things could start to peter out,” he said.

“We’ll always keep driving them on, but we don’t want it to slip away from us.

“We’re at the bottom of the play-off pack and nobody [outside the club] is thinking that we can get there.

“We’ve just got to keep believing that we will.

“We want to finish the season strong. It would just round up a really good time for the club and help us kick-on for next season.

“This is the business end of the season and we want to be involved right to the wire.

“We want to stick in there and give ourselves a fighting chance.

“We’re optimistic, but we’re also realistic,” he added.

“We need to put back-to-back wins together and then probably get three or four on the trot.

“We looked at it and targeted nine wins [before the MK Dons game] so that will stay the same.

“Seven of the games are at home and we’ve got a lot to play for. We’ve got to hang in there and see where we end up.

“And if we do miss out on the play-offs then we know that we’ve given it a good try.”

Hatswell is hoping that the players will be refreshed after a first blank midweek schedule in five weeks.

“It’s been much-needed,” said Michael Flynn’s number two. “They’ve had a tough run of games of late.

“The saying ‘flogging a dead horse’ sprang to mind at Milton Keynes a little bit.

“We felt we had to pick them up before the game, at half-time and afterwards as well. They were a bit deflated.

“We gave them Monday off, just to get away from the place, and they came back in on Tuesday in good spirits.”

And the Exiles will be keen to avenge their agonising 3-2 defeat at Brunton Park in November when they were beaten by a 92nd-minute goal from Danny Grainger having fought back from 2-0 down.

Hatswell said: “They beat us at their place and that was a bit of a blow that day so we want to take back the points that we lost up there.”

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