MANAGER Michael Flynn admits Newport County AFC will find it hard to keep hold of midfielder Josh Sheehan if he sustains his superb start to the season.

Sheehan wears number 10 and made his name as an attacking midfielder, ending his first season on loan with the Exiles as joint top scorer with seven goals in the 2016-2017 campaign.

But, after a spell out of the side last season, he’s been a revelation since switching to a deeper-lying playmaker role with more defensive duties earlier this year.

Sheehan put in another excellent performance against Exeter City on Saturday, winning the penalty that allowed substitute Tristan Abrahams to cancel out Lee Martin’s early opener and saving the day when goalkeeper Tom King almost gifted the visitors a winner in stoppage time.

And Flynn believes the 24-year-old Swansea City academy product will return to playing at a higher level before too long.

“If Josh Sheehan keeps playing the way he is then he’ll be gone by Christmas,” said the Exiles boss.

“Teams have got to be watching him. He’s been immense.

“He’d certainly be up there with our best players so far this season.

“If he could shoot, he’d be a Premier League player. But I’m not going to ask for it all!”

A tactical change at half-time proved effective for County on Saturday as Abrahams inspired a second-half fightback after replacing top scorer Padraig Amond.

“It was a tactical change,” Flynn confirmed. “I didn’t think we were threatening enough in behind [in the first half].

“Jamma [Jamille Matt] was winning quite a lot [of high balls] but that’s not Podge’s [Amond’s] game. He’s not the quickest but he’s a clever footballer.

“I thought we needed a bit of pace in behind and it showed in the second half. It worked.

“I think it’s been proven it was a change that was needed.

“I’ve just spoken to him [Amond] and he’s fine,” added the manager.

“He’s obviously disappointed but he’s fine. It’s about the team.”

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With Amond and Matty Dolan off the pitch, Abrahams took responsibility to level from the spot on 64 minutes.

“I remembered how calm he was when he scored the winning penalty [in the Carabao Cup shootout] against Gillingham so I told him to take it,” said Flynn.

“There are still some things I want him to learn and pick up into his game but he’s only 20 years of age and he’s got an exciting future ahead of him.”

Flynn felt his side created enough chances to beat the League Two leaders, but his side proved that they are a match for the best in the division.

“The side I fear the most is ourselves, when we shoot ourselves in the foot and we aren’t clinical enough,” he said.

“But we will give anyone a game if we are on it. Home or away, we’ll give anybody a game.”

Matt and Corey Whitely were forced off late on and Flynn is happy that his side have a week to recover before next Saturday’s trip to Swindon Town.

“I’m over the moon that we’ve got no midweek game,” he said.

“Jamma’s had a stop-start season and he stiffened up, and so did Corey.

“It’s not ideal. I could have done with Jamma staying on for the full game but I can’t risk him being out for four or six weeks with a hamstring injury.”

Read more: Newport County 1 Exeter City 1 - match report from Rodney Parade