REPORTS of the end of the love affair between Newport County AFC and the cups have obviously been greatly exaggerated!

A fortnight ago, manager Michael Flynn stated that he wasn’t taking the Carabao Cup seriously and told fans to stay at home rather than travel to the first-round tie at Gillingham.

He even suggested that he might give the long trip to Priestfield a miss in favour of a scouting mission to Plymouth Argyle.

In the end Flynn was in the dugout and, despite making nine changes, his team won a crazy game on penalties.

Were they just heat-of-the-moment comments made in anger after a tough trip to Cambridge?

Or was it all fiendishly clever reverse psychology to lull Gillingham into a false sense of security?

Either way, it worked. And County were rewarded with another plum draw at home to West Ham United, with the Sky TV cameras also heading to Rodney Parade as a lucrative added bonus.

Flynn is still insisting that this competition, which lacks the financial rewards of the FA Cup, is pretty low on his list of priorities.

But it should be another great night with more than a thousand Hammers fans in town and a minimum of 5,000 home supporters in attendance.

After the past two seasons, there was a danger that the people of Newport would have become somewhat blasé about cup clashes with Premier League teams.

But there is still clearly a big appetite for these occasions and, unlike the FA Cup in the New Year, this one comes at a time when it shouldn’t be too much of a distraction from the bread and butter of League Two.

So what chance of another big upset to rival the wins over Leicester City and Middlesbrough last season and Leeds United the year before?

Much will depend on how West Ham and their manager Manuel Pellegrini approach the tie.

Flynn is expecting the Chilean, who won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2014, will show his side respect.

“Rodney Parade is obviously a lot different to what they’re used to but I know they’re good professionals, they’re top players and they’ve got a very good manager,” said the Exiles boss.

“He’s been there, seen it and done it and he’s been in England long enough now to know what it’s all about.

“They won’t want to be on the end of an upset because this competition might be a route to Wembley for them.

“Mid-table teams like them and Leicester and Wolves have got to be looking at this competition as a shot at winning a trophy.”

The majority of the Hammers faithful would agree with those sentiments, but reports suggest that Pellegrini may make as many as eight changes from Saturday’s win at Watford.

They have plenty of talent in reserve, but such a strategy would be a risky move at a ground where even Tottenham Hotspur and Man City have been seriously tested.

South Wales Argus:

“I think they’ll mix it up a little bit but they’ve got bags of talent and we won’t just be focusing on one individual because we’ll come unstuck if we take our eye off somebody else,” added Flynn.

“I know they’ll do their homework but I’m hoping they won’t know too much about us.”

Unlike the midwinter matches against the likes of Boro last season, when the Rodney Parade pitch was at its worst, the surface won’t be a factor tonight.

It's in perfect condition and there will be no cliches about the pitch being a leveller and no excuses from the opposition afterwards

“The pitch is looking in great shape so that won’t be a help to us, but I don’t want it to be,” said Flynn at yesterday’s pre-match press conference.

“I want the boys to go out there and test themselves against top footballers.”

Whoever lines up for the visitors, it will be a stern test for County and they will certainly have to improve on Saturday’s disappointing display against Crewe Alexandra. And Flynn knows that.

“I’m not one to sit back, drop off, and let teams pick you off – especially Premier League teams,” he said.

“You can’t just keep having wave after wave of attacks against you because quality operators will find a way through. They’ll murder you.

“So we’ve got to make a game of it. They will have possession, they will pin us back, but it won’t be because we decide to sit back.

“We respect the opponent but we’ll look to get in their faces and close the spaces and their passing lines.”

County have shown time and again that they can rise to the big occasion and make even the biggest teams fluff their lines.

And if West Ham are not fully focused they could become the latest giant to be slayed at Rodney Parade.

Read more: Newport County duo struggling to be fit to face West Ham United