Newport County are ‘totally different’ challenge for Mansfield Town

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Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray admitted it is hard to predict what type of challenge his side will face at Newport County.

The Stags kick off their 2016/17 League Two campaign at Rodney Parade against an Exiles team that narrowly avoided the drop last time around.

But a young manager in Warren Feeney and an overhaul of players during the summer makes Saturday’s season opener an intriguing prospect for Murray.

He said: “Nobody knows how good anyone is until we kick off. You have an idea, you judge what you can from pre-season games but until you get in to the blood and thunder, to a certain degree, you’re guessing.

“They were a totally different outfit when he (Feeney) did take over. They’ve got a lot of different tools that can hurt teams.

“He is a lot like myself, he’s a young manager, but we’re up for it, we can’t wait to get going. We’re excited for the big kick off.”

Related article: Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray assesses squad balance

Mansfield tasted defeat the last time they were at Rodney Parade in February of this year, a late Scott Boden goal sealing a 1-0 win for the hosts.

Though Murray isn’t concerned with the state of the pitch this time around.

“Whether you go at the start of the season or the end of the season the thing you need to worry about is Newport because they are a very good team,” he said.

“Whether it’s grass or sand we’re in for a challenge. We know what we’re going to come up against. They’ve made a fair few solid signings and I think they’ll be a strong outfit this year.

“We’re going to have to be on our guard, it’s a very tricky game for us at the start of the season but we’re aware of it and confident in ourselves. We’ll go there and try to win.”

Newport have brought in 14 players over the summer where Murray has opted to make finer tweaks, or “put cream on top of the cake”.

“It’s hard to gauge, because we haven’t made holesale changes, how far we’ve moved,” he said. “We’re prepared for everything.

“We’ve got a lot of options in our tool box but no-one really knows what’s going to happen until it all kicks off. The big word is consistency, we’ve got to learn and know from the off how to win.

“If that means being direct we’ll do that. If that’s being sexy and open and playing some great football then we’ll do that. The bottom line is winning.

“We’re disciplined and we’ve got an organised team, we showed that last year, if we can up our home form and keep our away form we’ll have a half decent season.”

Meanwhile Murray was keeping his cards close to his chest over the fitness of Jack Thomas.

“We’re not too concerned about his catch up,” he said. “A lot of Jack’s problem at the minute is, because he is growing, his alignment and stuff is holding him back a little bit, but he’s nearly there.

“He’s ‘upping his things’ and he is very, very close. Will he be ready for the weekend? We’ll see tomorrow (Friday).”

And added: “We’re pleased with how pre-season has gone and at this point we’re exactly where we need to be.”