Manchester City face pitch-ed battle as Newport size up giant-killing

Newport manager Michael Flynn admits Pep Guardiola is right to be wary of the Rodney Parade pitch he will encounter for Manchester City’s FA Cup visit.

The surface, which is also used by rugby outfits Dragons and Newport RFC, is showing heavy signs of wear and tear despite being part-synthetic.

With the Wales women’s national team also making the ground their home, Rodney Parade has already staged over 60 football and rugby matches this season.

“The pitch will suit us more than them,” Flynn said ahead of Newport’s first FA Cup fifth-round appearance for 70 years.

“I’m glad it will because it gives us more of a chance than if we had to go to the Etihad.

“But let’s not blame the pitch or look for excuses. We’ve got to play out there as well.

“These players have a knack of rising to the occasion and they are a fantastic group.”

Guardiola has been made fully aware of the potential problems his Premier League leaders could face in south Wales on Saturday evening.

But the Spaniard denied rumours at his pre-match press conference that the City groundstaff had deliberately churned up a training pitch to help the side’s preparations.

“We have to adapt,” said Guardiola. “It is what it is and we accept that challenge.

“We played in the Premier League against Tottenham after NFL games.

“We’ll see what the pitch is like when we arrive. If you cannot play (the normal game), you have to play longer or quicker – but I don’t know. We are going to see.

“You don’t win absolutely anything complaining about that. When we play away, they are the owners of their stadium and they can play the pitch what it is.”

Newport are 82 places below English champions City on the league ladder, with the two clubs residing in different worlds.

The transfer value of City’s most recent starting XI was estimated at £465million, compared to the £50,000 of League Two Newport.

But Newport are well-versed in the act of giant-killing, with Leeds, Leicester and Middlesbrough all FA Cup victims at Rodney Parade over the last 14 months.

Asked if his side could conjure up another shock, Flynn replied: “Of course there can.

“Otherwise I’d just turn up, give them the game and say ‘Let’s shake hands’ and walk off.

“Who said we were going to draw with Tottenham last season or beat Leicester, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

“If we win this, whether it’s extra time or penalties, and I don’t care how we do it, it will be the biggest shock in FA Cup history.

“But I want to give the supporters something to cheer about and these players have to believe, which I know they do, that they can cause an upset.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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