ewport County will be hoping their longest period without a game for five weeks will give them the freshness they require as they host Carlisle United this Saturday in a desperate attempt to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.
The Exiles currently sit eight points behind seventh place Forest Green with only a single game in hand, that of the home game with Swindon Town on April 9th, and after defeat at MK Dons last time out, Mike Flynn's side really need to get a move on if they are to extend their season beyond May 5th.
Assistant Manager Wayne Hatswell, filling in for Flynn as part of his UEFA Pro Licence coaching course, spoke of the targets he and Flynn have made for the season. He said, "We've still got a hell of a lot to play for. It's in our hands, we've got to go again and we've just got to believe that we can do it. We've got to try to win our home games and pick up a couple of wins away from home, which we're more than capable of doing."
"Hats" also confirmed that Fraser Franks and Andrew Crofts will continue to miss out on the action but Joss Labadie and Vashon Neufville have returned to training following their respective ailments.
After initial victories following his appointment in January, Steven Pressley's side now come into this game on the outside of the play-off places looking in; they lay in eight place following a run of four matches without recording a victory.
The former Coventry manager is well aware of what threats County will pose and will be seeking to nulify them at source. He said ahead of the game, "Games like this aren’t so much about the tactical preparation, it’s the psychological preparation. It’s about being in the right frame of mind and being mentally ready for what they’re going to throw at us."
The reverse fixture in November saw County fall two goals behind in the first dozen minutes, mount a surprising comeback through Padraig Amond and Dan Butler, only for late heartbreak after a Danny Grainger thunderbolt in injury time ensured the three points stayed in Cumbria.
However, the one who did the early damage in that game - forward Jamie Davitt - misses out on causing County more problems as he is suspended following a red card picked up against Crewe midway through February.
This is a game which could define County's season; they can begin the process to getting their play-off push back on track or they could, with the assistance of results from elsewhere, bring their season to an abrupt halt. All kidding and online stressing aside, they're not going to be relegated so that isn't a worry. As a result, Saturday will be an indication as to where the players' minds are; do they really want to get themselves in the fight or are they happy to rest on what has undoubtedly been a remarkable season?
Prediction: Newport County 1-0 Carlisle United