Meet the opposition | Newport County
As Swansea City prepare to face Newport County in the Carabao Cup first round on Saturday (3pm), we take a closer look at the Exiles.
What’s their story?
Newport are preparing for their eighth successive season back in League Two, having secured their EFL return after winning the Conference play-offs in 2013.
After narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of the 2016-17 season, the Exiles came agonisingly close to promotion two years later, losing 1-0 to Tranmere Rovers in the play-off final after recording a seventh-place finish – their highest since returning to the fourth tier.
That season also saw the club reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in 70 years, beating Premier League side Leicester along the way before succumbing to eventual winners Manchester City.
Formed in 1912, the early 1980s provided County with the most successful era in their history. They reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals in 1981, while narrowly missing out on promotion to the second tier two years later.
However, the rest of that decade would be disastrous as financial difficulties led to back-to-back relegations, and the club went out of business in early 1989 before being reformed.
How’s their form?
Newport are aiming to build on their 14th-place finish in the suspended 2019-20 season.
Despite their mid-table position, the Exiles were beaten at home just once in the league since the turn of the year and reached the EFL Trophy semi-finals.
Renowned for their cup exploits in recent seasons, County have reached the Carabao Cup second round in each of the last three years.
However, you have to go back to their victory over Brighton in the 2013-14 competition for the last time they tasted success against a Championship side.
Who’s the boss?
Mike Flynn. The former player, first-team coach and caretaker boss is preparing for his fourth full season in charge of County.
Previously a club ambassador, as well as football and business development director, Flynn served as first-team coach to John Sheridan, Warren Feeney and Graham Westley at Rodney Parade.
He stepped up as caretaker following Westley’s departure in March 2017 with the club 11 points adrift at the bottom of League Two, and was given the job on a full-time basis after guiding them to a remarkable and dramatic escape from relegation.
Flynn also made over 100 appearances for Newport across four spells as a player, notably helping the club seal their return to the Football League under Justin Edinburgh in 2013.
Who are the key men?
The winner of four accolades at the end-of-season awards, ex-Swan Josh Sheehan was Newport’s star man of 2019-20.
Dictating the play from the heart of midfield, Sheehan was named County’s player of the year as well as the players’ player of the year.
Having spent 13 years with the Swans – during which he made just a single first-team appearance – he will be eager to make an impression against his former club.
Meanwhile, County’s main goalscoring threat is likely to come from Irish striker Padraig Amond.
The club’s leading marksman in each of the last three seasons, Amond is aiming to improve on his tally of 13 from 2019-20.
Former Norwich forward Tristan Abrahams – winner of the club’s young player of the year – was his nearest challenger with nine goals.
Elsewhere, Wales international goalkeeper Tom King is likely to operate between the sticks while the versatile Scot Bennett, who re-signed at Rodney Parade earlier this month, will provide experience in either defence or midfield.