By Paul Jones
Tristan Abrahams intends to add another grisly chapter to Newport County’s big book of butchered giants at Rodney Parade tonight.
The County striker knows his club have made such killings so commonplace they have absolutely nothing to fear against Premier League Newcastle United.
There may be no fans present at the normally intimidating old ground, but the home side will not lack motivation in trying to embarrass another top flight club.
Red-hot striker Abrahams already has five goals this season and the 21-year-old netted against Championship sides Swansea and Watford to send Newport into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Mike Flynn’s Exiles have never got this far in the competition before, but their recent knockout exploits have seen them beat Leicester City, Leeds and Middlesbrough in the last three seasons.
Newport have also run Manchester City and Tottenham close and star man Abrahams said: “There is always a chance against the big sides when Newport are playing.
“We need to stick to our game plan and hopefully we can get another result. We’ll go into it confident and we’ll give it our all for what we hope will be a positive outcome.
“It’s a very proud achievement for us to reach this round of the cup and be on TV which is going to benefit the club as well.”
Abrahams – who began his career at Leyton Orient before failing to make a breakthrough at Norwich – has set a target of 20 goals for the campaign and plans to make Steve Bruce’s Toon outfit his next victim.
“As a player who has never reached that landmark it’s always going to be a bit of a shock when you come out and say that,” he said.
“Now I’ve got another opportunity to play against a team at the highest level of English football. It’s a chance to show I can produce a performance at that level and help the boys get a win.”
Newcastle have had a decent start to the season with a win, a draw and a defeat in the Premier League so far and some free-scoring antics in their 7-0 victory over Morecambe in the last round.
Their manager, Steve Bruce has vowed to go with a near full-strength teams as he bids to take Newcastle into the quarter-finals for the first time for only the second time in 14 years,
“Look we’ve got a chance to park this competition and get to a quarter-final when December comes around,” said Bruce.
“How great an incentive is that? I know what it means to the supporters and we have had a favourable draw so let’s try.
“We can get to a quarter-final again, how good would that be?”
But Bruce is also wary of Newport – both their history and their recent form – and added: “Over the last few years they’ve been the team in the lower divisions who have produced a shock. Whether it’s in the FA Cup or Carabao Cup, they’re a good side. I watched their performance at the weekend and the one before that when they beat Watford.
🎶 Always believe in… 🎶
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 29, 2020
“They play the right way, play three at the back and try to play through you and Michael Flynn has done a wonderful job there in difficult circumstances. Make no mistake, we’ve got to approach it right because it is a difficult place to go with or without fans because of what they have got on the pitch.
“They’re really dangerous opponents and we have got a wonderful opportunity but know what we’re up against. They are a decent team who are flying high in the league at the minute, playing well and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen.”
Newport will earn a £100,000 fee for tonight’s game being shown live on Sky – a priceless sum at a time when clubs at the bottom of the football pyramid are being hit hard by Covid-19.
Flynn’s players have been tested for coronavirus ahead of the game with the medical bill paid by the Premier League.
“It’s compulsory for this round. It has been covered by the Premier League. We’ve all been tested and followed all the protocols and the procedures,” said the County boss.
“This is the furthest the club has ever got to and we’re playing a Premier League club live on Sky.
MATCHDAY | Our first Carabao Cup fourth round tie🏆
— Newport County AFC (@NewportCounty) September 30, 2020
“The TV money is huge. The club don’t budget for cup runs so it’s a nice little bonus. It’s nice we can play a part in putting some money into the club.”
Newcastle hammered League Two side Morecambe 7-0 in round three and Flynn added: “Let’s not dress it up, it’s going to be a very tough challenge. You’ve seen what Newcastle did to Morecambe.
“They are taking the competition seriously. I’m just glad it’s at home, but Newcastle have Premier League and international players and they won’t care about that.
“I know Steve won’t be taking it lightly. They will know all about us.”