PACE-SETTING Newport County AFC are “nowhere near” the level of last season’s promoted sides, claims the boss of League Two rivals Salford City.

The Exiles head to Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night with a three-point advantage at the head of the table and a four-gap to their hosts, who are fourth and have played a game more.

Michael Flynn’s side have made a flying start to the campaign with their League Two exploits coming after a Carabao Cup run that featured upsets against Swansea City and Watford before a penalty shootout loss to Newcastle of the Premier League.

They also have an FA Cup round three tie to come in January after beating Salford 3-0 on Saturday.

But Ammies boss Richie Wellens, who made the move to the big spenders after helping Swindon to promotion to League One last season, isn’t overly impressed by the Exiles.

South Wales Argus: BARB: Richie Wellens in charge of Swindon last yearBARB: Richie Wellens in charge of Swindon last year

“It was hard to tell if they are the best team in the league because you were looking at players going up against young kids,” said Flynn’s former Blackpool teammate after making nine changes for the Rodney Parade clash.

“I haven’t seen too many games in the league, but if I was comparing Newport to a Swindon last year or to a Plymouth or Crewe I would say they are nowhere near the level, nowhere near.”

Salford are on the rise after a slow start to the season and Wellens’ comments add spice for their meetings with the Exiles, with a Tuesday, December 15 clash at Moor Lane before a swift turnaround to a January 16 fixture in Wales.

“We aren’t concentrating on Newport because we have got Carlisle and Barrow away this week. You don’t win the league in November or December,” said Wellens, whose side are eighth, seven back on County.

South Wales Argus:

“Winter is coming and this is where you see the character of the players. If you are going to win leagues then these are the months that are so important.”

Flynn will no doubt raise a smile at Wellens’ comments but has also stressed the importance of this next hectic block of fixtures.

County play nine games between now and their FA Cup clash with the Forest Green game followed by a home encounter with Morecambe and then three successive away games at Grimsby, Leyton Orient and Salford.