DON’T mention the P-word! Newport County AFC manager Graham Coughlan has banned talk of a push for the League Two play-offs, insisting his first target is to get to the 50-point safety mark.

County, who gave Manchester United a big scare in the FA Cup last month, are top of the form table in the fourth tier with 14 points from their last six games.

And last week’s 2-1 win over Swindon Town saw them close to within four points of seventh-placed Notts County, who they host on Tuesday night.

But Coughlan is adamant that the focus is only on the next game – at Walsall tomorrow – and accumulating another 10 points as quickly as possible.

“The lads are flying, they’re doing well, and they’ve got a little bit of confidence and momentum,” said Coughlan, who missed out on the January manager of the month award to Harrogate Town’s Simon Weaver. “But it’s all about winning the next one.

“Our priority in pre-season was to beat 57 points – that’s what we finished with last season. We finished 15th in the division, and we wanted to beat that.

“First and foremost, we need to make sure we get to 48, 50 points – to make sure we have enough points on the board to be looking ahead and not looking over our shoulder.

“At this moment in time there is a gap, a very healthy gap, but we still have a job to do on that front.

“When that job is done, we’ll change the targets, change the goalposts and we’ll try to achieve 57 points. They’re they only targets our lads have at this moment in time.

“If we can get beyond 57 points, anything after that and it would be a remarkable season.”

County are currently 18 points clear of second-from-bottom Sutton United with a game in hand, but he knows that things can quickly change.

“That’s the problem in football; when you have a few victories people start jumping ahead and moving the goalposts too quickly,” said the Exiles boss. “We’ve got to take our time – crawl, walk, then run.

“All of a sudden, expectations change and you quickly get slapped back down. If you don’t achieve then it’s a size nine up your backside and off with your head. We know how football works and we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll just take it game by game.

“But the lads are in good form, they’re flying and it’s a really good feeling in the camp.”

While this campaign is still very much alive, Coughlan is also thinking ahead to the summer and planning for next season.

“I’m well down the line with it,” he said. “I was actually putting some pre-season stuff together this week. And that’s not me putting the cart before the horse, that’s me trying to plan and organise.

“Player-wise, we’re well down the line with where we want to go and what we want to do.

“I’ve sat down with a couple of players already, and there’ll be another couple sitting down over the next few weeks.

“I think the lads have a fair idea of what we want to do, and I don’t think there is any uncertainty or grey areas over that side of things.”