MANAGER Michael Flynn has warned that Newport County AFC could enjoy a better season than last year and still finish lower in the table due to what he sees as the increase in quality in League Two this time out.

County upset the odds to finish seventh in May and were only denied promotion after Mark O’Brien was sent off in the play-off final at Wembley and Tranmere Rovers sealed victory deep into extra-time.

Flynn believes that he has assembled a better squad for the new campaign but he’s also convinced that it will be much tougher to claim a play-off spot than it was last season.

“I think our squad has improved,” said the Exiles boss.

“We’ll find out if the team has improved over the next few weeks, but the league has improved drastically.

“The aim is to improve year on year but we could have a better season and not quite finish as high as we did last season because I think the league is a lot stronger this year.

“You’ve got some really big clubs who have come down – Bradford, Plymouth, Walsall and Scunthorpe will all be looking to get straight back up.

“Then you’ve got Mansfield, who will have improved, and I think Northampton will be right up there.

“It’s going to be tough, but I don’t think Newport’s an easy place to come.”

South Wales Argus:

Mansfield, the title favourites with many bookmakers, are the visitors to Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon and County also face Plymouth Argyle, Walsall and Forest Green Rovers this month and Northampton Town on September 14.

“It’s going to be a really tough game against Mansfield,” said Flynn.

“They’re one of the favourites to go up and it will give us a good benchmark to see where we are.

“It’s a tough start. It’s going to be a tough six weeks but if we come out of it with a few wins we can hopefully then kick on.

“Realistically, there are 16 or 17 teams who will be looking for a top-seven finish,” he added.

“It is about managing expectations. I have had a bit of an improvement on my budget but it’s still nowhere near any of the top 10.

“That doesn’t always mean you’re going to finish in the top 10 but it does give you a good head start.”

Whatever happens over the next nine months, Flynn is confident that his players will do the club proud once again.

“We won’t go under the radar now and that’s a credit to the players,” he said

“We had the joint best home record last season so that’s something we need to continue, and we need to improve the away record.

“We’ve also got to be lucky with injuries and we’ve got to be consistent.

“It’s crucial to get a good start, but I’m not going to get carried away or put extra pressure on the players because they know what we expect of them,” he added.

“I expect the players to work hard for the shirt. I expect them to push each other in training, because I think we’ve got a stronger squad this year, and I expect them to carry out everything I ask of them.

“They’re a fantastic group, the team spirit is really good and hopefully we can have another successful league campaign.”

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