Such is Newport County’s injury plight that manager Michael Flynn is threatening to come out of retirement to play in the Leasing.com Trophy tie at Brighton U21 at the Amex Stadium tonight (7.00pm, Tuesday).
The Exiles picked up two more injuries in their 1-0 FA Cup win at Maldon & Tiptree as they reached the third round for the fourth time in five years. But they lost central defenders Mark O’Brien and Kyle Howkins in the process.
Howkins was forced to spend the weekend in hospital after coming off worst in a sickening clash of heads with home striker Charlee Hughes, while O’Brien is suffering from “bone bruising”. They joined an injury list that contains Mickey Demetriou, Dan Leadbitter, Scot Bennett, Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie, Taylor Maloney, Keanu Marsh-Brown and Ade Azeez.
“I’ve got 10 out now, so Tuesday’s team is going to be very interesting. I might have to register myself, seriously,” said Flynn, whose last game for the club was in February, 2017.
“I’m not in great shape, but I’m sure I could sit in the middle of a back three and organise them. If I can get out of it I will – I don’t want to be anywhere near it.
“I’ll give as many youth players who deserve it a chance, but they also need some help around them. If you go and throw them to the wolves and let them get a real hiding, that’s not going to be beneficial to their careers.”
County squeezed into the knock-out phase of the competition thanks to a 7-4 win at Cheltenham Town. It was their only win in their three matches, but got them ahead of West Ham United U21 and Cheltenham on goal difference to go through from their group with Exeter City.
Brighton topped their group following 2-0 wins over AFC Wimbledon and Southend United, before drawing 1-1 away to Leyton Orient at the start of the last month.