Newport County captain Andy Sandell wants top 10 finish

Andy Sandell

Newport County captain Andy Sandell says the Exiles are targeting a top 10 finish after improvements were made to the Rodney Parade pitch this summer.

Six of Newport's home games were postponed last season as a result of a waterlogged pitch during an unusually wet winter.

But work on the drainage and irrigation system has now been completed.

"We've got to be thinking about the top 10 - maybe a bit more if we start well," said Sandell.

Newport - back in the Football League after a 26-year absence - made a strong start to the 2013-14 season but finished 14th as results tailed off after Christmas.

The fixture congestion caused by numerous postponements meant County ended up playing twice a week during the second half of the season.

But the maintenance carried out over the summer has boosted the Exiles' hopes for the new campaign.

"It will make a massive difference," said Sandell, who has been appointed captain by boss Justin Edinburgh.

"We were doing really well last year until the problems with the pitch.

"It's definitely going to be a bonus for us because we do like to play a bit of football.

Newport County facts
Newport were relegated from the Football League in 1988, and spent 26 years fighting to get back.
In 1980 they won the Welsh Cup and the following season reached the quarter final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.
On 14 December, 2013 they won 2-0 at Plymouth to move into fourth place in League Two - just three points behind then leaders Oxford.
After 14 December, Newport won only five out of 26 League matches and finished in 14th place.

"Hopefully [the pitch] will stay the same and we can get the ball down and play."

It has been a busy summer at Rodney Parade, with Edinburgh signing midfielders Mark Byrne and Yan Klukowski, and defenders Darren Jones and Kevin Feely.

He has also brought in Canadian goalkeeper Simon Thomas on a short-term deal as back up for Lenny Pidgeley.

Sandell believes the new signings will boost County for the opening game of the season against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday.

"All of them have got different attributes which we need," said the 31-year old.

"We needed a couple of centre-halves in.

"The gaffer has done well in getting them."

Wycombe finished 22nd last season, but Sandell expects a tough game at Rodney Parade.

"They struggled last year and only just survived," said the former Wanderers player.

"I know the manager [Gareth Ainsworth] quite well and he'll have them fit and flying - they'll be a different fish this year.

"We want the fans with us and hopefully we'll give them something to cheer about."