Under-pressure Puel stands firm over FA Cup selection

Claude Puel insisted Leicester had enough quality on the pitch to prevent the FA Cup shock at Newport that will raise further question marks over his future at the King Power Stadium.

Puel has faced pressure in recent weeks and though it was eased by impressive festive wins against Chelsea and Manchester City, the 2-1 defeat to Sky Bet League Two minnows will do him no favours.

The Frenchman was roundly jeered by Leicester supporters after the game as he passed them to conduct his post-match media duties.

Padraig Amond’s 85th-minute penalty secured Newport’s first FA Cup win over top-flight opponents since 1964 and started the inquest into Leicester’s latest cup blow.

England internationals Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell were among those missing as Puel made seven changes from the New Year’s Day win at Everton.

“I think we had enough quality on the pitch to qualify,” said Puel, who was sharply criticised for naming an under-strength side for the Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat to makeshift Manchester City opponents last month.

“I don’t want to look for excuses about this.

“I think we lost together, we are all together disappointed and frustrated after this game, because it was an objective for us. This competition was important.”

Newport knocked out Leeds in the third round last season and then held Tottenham at home before losing a Wembley replay 2-0.

“We had a lot of respect for this team,” Puel said.

“We knew it was a difficult game with difficult conditions – we knew this context.

“And it was important to have experienced players to manage this game and to find a solution.

“We tried, but it was not enough. I don’t know if we deserved it or not.

“They made a fantastic upset, it will be a fantastic memory for them.”

Newport had led through Jamille Matt’s early header but Leicester’s pressure finally told eight minutes from time when Rachid Ghezzal levelled with a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area.

County were back in front within three minutes, however, as Marc Albrighton handled and Amond coolly converted from the spot.

Newport manager Michael Flynn was ecstatic at the final whistle and described the victory as being in his top three career highlights.

Flynn said the win was on a par with being part of the Newport squad which won promotion back in to the Football League in 2013, and also helping the club stay up in 2017 after he had been appointed manager at Rodney Parade.

“I don’t know which order they are in, but this is up there with the other two as it’s the first time I’ve beaten a Premier League manager,” Flynn said.

“We have put Newport County on the map and I am so proud.

“How they can raise these levels is amazing. It has to be up there with the best wins in our history.”

On potential fourth-round opponents, Flynn added: “I want Liverpool at home or away.

“I am a Liverpool fan and would love to play them, but you would have to say the best thing for the club is a big club away.

“We want to make as much as we can out of it.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

Serving quality football news from around the globe. No click-bait.