NEWPORT County AFC great Michael Flynn admits he is “gutted” that he won’t continue his partnership with Wayne Hatswell at Cheltenham, revealing his usual right-hand man is set to return to Wales.

Flynn is preparing for his latest League Two challenge after being appointed as head coach of the Robins.

He will attempt to help Cheltenham bounce back from relegation and finally get an elusive promotion on his CV after twice going close with the Exiles when controversially denied at Wembley.

Flynn has already brought in two former County men by snapping up legendary defender/midfielder Scot Bennett, who had been in talks over extending his Rodney Parade stay, and left-back Ryan Haynes.

However, he won’t have his usual right-hand man next to him in the dugout.

Flynn was appointed as Exiles boss in 2017 and brought in Hatswell as his assistant, a decision that proved to be an inspired one.

They spearheaded the Great Escape, led the club on a number of lucrative cup runs and became promotion contenders.

DEPUTY: Former County coach Wayne HatswellDEPUTY: Former County coach Wayne Hatswell

Hatswell stayed on as interim manager after Flynn’s departure in October 2021 - with a record of a win and three draws - and stayed on to work with James Rowberry.

He left when Flynn got the Walsall job in February 2022 and also followed him to Swindon last season.

This time, however, Aaron Downes will be the assistant at Whaddon Road with the manager revealing Hatswell could be set for the Football Association of Wales.

He previously worked as a mentor of the FAW’s coaching programme alongside Rowberry.

“I didn’t know Aaron, but I think we can have a good relationship,” said Flynn in a wide-ranging interview with GloucestershireLive.

“Obviously I’ve always had Wayne Hatswell with me before, but he has the chance of a permanent job with the Welsh FA and he has a one-year-old, so the timing wasn’t right for him to come in and I respect that.

“He’s a good friend of mine so am I gutted he’s not here? Yes. Does it feel a little bit weird working with someone else? Yes.

“But I met Aaron before I agreed to take him in and bring him on board and we got on really well. He is thorough, he’s made a really good impression so far.

“It is what it is and I’ll still talk to Wayne and bounce ideas off him, although he probably won’t answer the phone too much! Aaron will speak to other people throughout the season too and that’s the beauty of football: if you are one of the good ones, people will pick up the phone to you.”

County will discover when they will face Flynn at 9am next Wednesday when the EFL fixtures are released.

It won’t be a Boxing Day derby with Cheltenham in Newport, however, as the Dragons are hosting Cardiff at Rodney Parade on that afternoon.