DAVID Pipe believes his Newport County AFC teammates have proved themselves to be “big-game players” and he expects them to “rise to the occasion” again for today’s League Two showdown with Bury (kick-off 3pm).

The second-placed Shakers head to Rodney Parade as genuine automatic promotion contenders, while County are still chasing a place in the play-offs.

It promises to be an exciting contest in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd and Pipe is convinced that the Exiles can come out on top before they head to relegation-threatened Macclesfield Town on Monday.

“I’m excited, on a personal level,” said the veteran defender.

“It's the business end of the season, we've got two games close together and we know full well if we do well in those it gets even more exciting.

“Bury have got some very good players and they're up there because they deserve to be up there, but no-one really looks forward to coming to Newport.

“It’s a hostile crowd, the boys are coming off the back of a win and we haven’t lost for five games, so we'll be going into it just as confident as they will be."

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County are five points behind seventh-placed Exeter City with a game in hand and there is little margin for error in their final five matches, but Pipe knows they can handle the pressure.

“I think we’ve shown we have got big-game players,” said the former Wales international.

“Over the past couple of years, you can name a number of games, even going back to the Great Escape.

“That's a different type of pressure, but pressure's pressure.

“The boys and managerial staff seem to be able to cope with it, and the fans. We all rise to the occasion.

“You look at the quarter-final of the Champions League [Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur,” he added.

“It was incredible and watching it I thought 'we've just played both of these in the last 18 months’.

“We knew we'd done well, we were proud at the time, but when you look back at it, what we achieved, it's very good. It's been a springboard for where we're going in the league.

“Bury's a different challenge, but we've got the talent to win games and we're looking forward to the challenge.”

Pipe has not started a game since February 2 and he expects to be on the bench again today, a situation he admits does frustrate him.

“I don’t like it, to be honest, but I understand it,” said the 35-year-old, who has taken on a dual-role as a fitness coach this season.

“Regan [Poole] has come in and done really well from the off, and especially when he got put in at right-back

“I just have to be ready when I’m called upon, like I was against Cheltenham a few weeks ago when I think I came on and made an impact.

“That’s contributing, and obviously I do the other side of it – getting the boys ready for matches.

“That kind of softens the blow of me not playing, but I do what I can and make sure I’m ready if needed. It’s called being professional and that’s how I deal with things."

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