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Friday 21 September 2018

Amond: We're able for Kane and Spurs

Irish striker not fazed by Tottenham

Newport County’s Pádraig Amond (l) shoots on goal during the FA Cup third round win over Leeds United at Rodney Parade earlier this month
Newport County’s Pádraig Amond (l) shoots on goal during the FA Cup third round win over Leeds United at Rodney Parade earlier this month

Some figures in the dressing room at fourth-tier side Newport County had a tinge of disappointment when an away draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup denied them a chance to play at Wembley, against Spurs.

But Padraig Amond, the Irish striker at the Welsh club who earned that clash with Tottenham by beating Leeds United, has no such regrets. Been there, seen that, done that.

"I know some people say it's their dream to go and play at Wembley and they might have been hoping we go Spurs away, instead of at home," says Amond.

"But I have played at Wembley twice already so it wasn't a disappointment for me that we didn't get to Wembley.

Split

"Officials at the club here have been talking about it and they reckon that we'll make as much money from a home tie as we'd have done by going to Wembley.

"The gate is split between the clubs but with the rent that Spurs pay for Wembley, and the TV money, it's worth as much to us financially to be at home.

"And I think it's a lot better for the town, to have Spurs coming to Newport, instead of our fans having to go up to London, we have one of the best teams in Europe coming to our place.

"And maybe we have a better chance in the game because of where it is, the Spurs players won't be used to the surroundings, the pitch won't be as pristine as they are accustomed to and the dressing rooms are a bit smaller than in Wembley," he said.

The much-travelled striker played at the spirtual home of the English game twice in the space of a week, for Grimsby Town at the end of the 2015/16 season, first in the promotion play-off final in the Conference (they won, beating Forest Green Rovers) and then the FA Trophy (they lost, to Halifax).

"Apart from England internationals, not many players get to play in Wembley twice in a week so it was a big deal for me," he says.

But this lad is used to the big stage and he reckons he's one of only a handful of players to have played in a final at Croke Park and Wembley.

His own Croker story comes from his days as a hurler with Carlow, in 2006.

"Yeah, I played in a Leinster minor final at Croke Park, I remember being given a tour of the place by a couple of the Kilkenny hurlers that day. That was my second-last game of hurling, my last match was the quarter-final against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park," he recalls.

"I was at Shamrock Rovers at the time and I shouldn't really have been playing hurling at all.

"Not many have played in Wembley and Croke Park. Maybe Kevin Moran, Shane Long, Niall Quinn, possibly Denis Irwin, and Shane Long is probably the only one to score in both of them. It's a big honour."

While Newport's tidy home of Rodney Parade has a certain cachet due to its rugby ties, it's fair to say that Harry Kane and his team-mates are not relishing the trip, if they turn up that is as Spurs are likely to field a weakened side.

Leeds United rested players for their clash with Newport in the third round, underestimated the Welsh side and paid the price, and while Mauricio Pochettino will say say polite things about Newport, Amond is realistic.

"Spurs are down to play Manchester United next Wednesday night, then they have Liverpool and Arsenal in the league and then the Champions League so if I was the Tottenham manager, I don't think I would be risking Harry Kane in Rodney Parade on the Saturday before you play United," says Amond.

"It's a double-edged sword for us, we want to play against the best players, but when you sit down and think about it, the best chance we have is if Spurs rest players.

Strengths

"We will look to out strengths, as we did in the last round, we didn't think too much about Leeds, their history and their strengths, we focused on ourselves and did the job.

"Whatever team Spurs put out tomorrow they will have 11 internationals on the pitch, a few more on the bench and four more in the stands.

"If you get caught up thinking that the best striker in the world, Kane, is coming to play against you, then you are 1-0 down before the game starts.

"So we focus on ourselves, as we have been told all week, to enjoy this occasion and do our best, it's great to be involved in, the media coverage is great. But we will want to go out and not let ourselves down.

"We are conscious that people outside of League Two are looking at us. It's the same with Yeovil against Man U tonight, and Lincoln in the Cup last season as a non-league team.

"I think every player remembers those FA Cup shocks from when then were younger, those games stand out in your memory and hopefully this year we can add that bit of magic.

"No one expects us to win, the club will make good money no matter the result so it's a free shot at a club like Spurs."

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