MIDFIELDER Josh Sheehan will be a “big player” for Newport County AFC next season, according to manager Michael Flynn.

Sheehan returned to the starting XI after a month on the bench as County beat League Two champions-elect Accrington Stanley 2-1 at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Padraig Amond and Frank Nouble.

After an impressive first 45 minutes the former Swansea City youngster was withdrawn in the second half and Flynn believes there is a lot more to come from the 23-year-old.

“I thought he struggled in the second half,” said the Exiles boss.

“He’s still getting back to match-fitness and he’s going to have a big pre-season.

“He’s going to be a big player for us and he’s a great lad. That’s why I wanted him here. I knew his qualities.”

Sheehan was replaced by Aaron Collins on 71 minutes and the Newport-born forward helped take the game to Stanley in the closing stages.

But Flynn felt Collins neglected his defensive duties as the visitors pulled a goal back in the final minute through Billy Kee.

“He does some brilliant things, he gets his head up, takes chances on, he commits defenders, runs at people, but it’s just the other part of the game that he’s got to learn,” said the manager.

“In the 90th minute get tight to your man, don’t dive in, win the ball and go and do what you’re good at, and that’s run with it.”

Collins is currently on loan from Premier League-bound Wolverhampton Wanderers where his current contract runs out this summer.

Flynn worked with the 20-year-old when he was part of the Exiles academy and he’s a big fan.

Would he like to bring Collins back to the club on a permanent basis if he’s available this summer?

“I’ve got my targets,” said Flynn. “I’m hoping he’s not available because it means he’s having a good career at Wolves.

“He’s somebody who I’ve got a time for, I’ve known him a long time and somebody I want to see go on and have a great career.”

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Flynn also defended Nouble’s on-field demeanour after the striker netted his ninth goal of the season on Tuesday.

Nouble has been the target of criticism from some fans for his perceived lack of effort.

But Flynn insists that the former West Ham United man is giving his all for the cause.

“I’m really pleased that Frank has managed to get a goal because it’s been a while and somebody of his ability should be scoring more,” he said.

“Things weren’t quite going for him at the start but he puts a shift in and he cares about the club.

“He cares about his teammates and he cares about his career. He’s just laidback.

“It’s frustrating because he’s that laidback that he’s horizontal at times.

“But that’s just his nature. He doesn’t mean it disrespectfully to anybody.

“I’m not getting carried away because he’s scored a goal but he does care.”