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Robbie Wilmott says Premier League clubs don’t ‘fancy’ a trip to Newport

Robbie Willmott
(Image credit: Nigel French)

Newport winger Robbie Willmott insists Premier League clubs do not like playing at Rodney Parade as they prepare to welcome Southampton in the Carabao Cup.

The Exiles have developed a big reputation as cup giant-killers under Michael Flynn with Leeds, Leicester and Watford all losing at Newport in recent seasons.

Tottenham were indebted to a late Harry Kane equaliser to force an FA Cup replay in 2018, while Newcastle and Brighton needed penalties at Rodney Parade to progress in knockout competitions last season.

“It’s a special place to play in games like these,” said Willmott, a veteran of such cup-ties who is back in favour at Newport following an Exeter loan spell during the second half of last season.

“The noise is deafening at times and the crowd make it a fortress for us.

“In recent history teams have turned up and didn’t really fancy it.

“When people see they’ve got Newport away they know they’re in for a tough night, especially the big sides.

“I’m not sure what it is, but we seem to just turn it on against the Premier League sides.

“You’ve got to buy into what the club is and the boys have done it.”

Southampton will become the ninth club currently playing in the Premier League to visit Newport since 2018.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has braced himself for a tough night in south-east Wales but has promised to rotate his squad after their Premier League draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

“If we play against players who’ve not had many minutes we could catch them cold,” Willmott said.

“But we know that whoever they play is going to have a lot of Premier League experience.”

Boss Flynn will be absent after testing positive for coronavirus, so number two Wayne Hatswell takes charge again after being at the helm for Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two win at Tranmere.

The second-round tie will see Newport, playing in front of a substantial home crowd for the first time since March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, make a belated return to Rodney Parade this term after a new playing surface was installed over the summer.

Hatswell said: “The pitch has had its stories in the past but at the moment it looks unbelievable.”

“We played Swansea, Watford and Newcastle last season when it was good and we demonstrated what a good team we are in possession.

“Some of the players who have signed here hadn’t been to the ground before this week.

“I’ve had to remind them where we were going and tell them this was our home ground.”