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O'Brien's delight for clean-sheet County.

NEWPORT County's Mark O'Brien believes successive clean sheets prove that the club were right to go "back to basics" in a bid tighten up in defence but he knows they need to be more ruthless in attack.

O'Brien's return to the starting XI in a three-man central defence has seen the Exiles earn back-to-back 0-0 draws with Notts County and Port Vale in League Two.

County's previous clean sheet was on December 23 and they had conceded 10 goals in their last three league games, culminating in a 5-0 thrashing at Mansfield Town on February 13.

"For us defenders it was about getting back to basics after the last couple of weeks and we seem to be gradually getting back on track," said O'Brien (pictured above).

"We had a hectic period and we've shaken off the FA Cup hangover now and got back to basics. We know what we're doing now, we're back to having a solid base to build on and now we're going to work on going forward more.

"We are creating chances and we know we just need to take a few more because we know that we've got the players that can score."

County find themselves 13th in the table on 48 points - nine points below the play-off places with a game in hand.

And with eight of their final 12 matches at Rodney Parade, O'Brien is confident that they can still push for a top-seven finish.

"We know we have the home games now to build on it," he added.

"We know what we're like at home - it's like a fortress for us - and if can build on that and score at the other end I can see us having a strong end to the season.

"We know what's required of us and we know we're more than capable of doing it because we've still got the core of last season's squad.

"We know we're going to have to battle and we're capable of going on a run like last season, if not better because we've got more quality in the squad this season."

County have already matched their points tally for the 2016-2017 campaign and O'Brien says there has been great progress over the past 12 months.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 28, 2018
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