MICHAEL Flynn will keep a safe distance from the Newport players on the journey to Valley Parade.

City’s opponents this weekend are travelling in two coaches – one for the squad and the other containing manager Flynn and his coaching staff. Welcome to the world of 2020.

As Wales is placed back into a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown, it is another box that must be ticked for the former Bantam.

“We’ve all learned the procedures and the protocols,” said Flynn. “We follow them strictly to the point where it does get on your nerves.

“But the health and safety of the players is paramount. That’s the most important thing and we want them being responsible as well so other people don’t get infected.

“Fair play to them, they’ve done really well, behaved and got on with it day to day.

“It is what it is and we’ve just got to try and get through these next couple of weeks now with the lockdown. Then hopefully things will start easing again.”

Football can, at least, carry on “as normal” under the heavy restrictions being introduced by Mark Drayford, the Welsh first minister. Not that normal is anything to write home about.

Clubs like Newport have been hit harder than most by the ongoing ban on crowds at games.

Flynn admitted: “It’s tough because obviously we depend on the season tickets and the walk-ups – our club is something like 50/50 with that so it’s a huge miss.

“Whereas Bradford is probably more 80/20 because of the deal they do.

“But things like having to travel in two coaches is just more cost which is not ideal. It is very difficult but it’s the same for all clubs and we’ve just got to keep our heads down.

“There are a lot of abnormalities, shall we say, but I think it’s going to be here until next year.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be roughly January-time (when fans might come back) but it is a case of ‘how long’s a piece of string?’

“I thought it would be October, I didn’t think we’d still be like this going past that.

“When it first broke out, I thought we might still be going on holiday in May because nobody knew. That seems a distant memory.

“I’m worrying now whether we can go next May. We’ve just got to play it by ear.”

A return to Valley Parade and a club where Flynn proudly wore the shirt on 104 occasions would normally be a date ringed in his calendar.

But whereas 14,000 witnessed last season’s game with Newport – and a bit of feistiness on the touchline between Flynn and then-City manager Gary Bowyer – the stands will be empty this time.

“For me, going back to Bradford will be very strange without the fans.

“I’ve played in a couple of the cups at Valley Parade when it’s been very quiet. But even then, because of how loud and into their football they are, there’s still at atmosphere.

“But unless it’s covered with reporters and board members, it’s going to be a bit of a shell.

“I know having 16,000 at Bradford can be more effective at times. But it can also occasionally be a hindrance as well, especially if things aren’t going great.

“Players rise or crumble in different situations and in pressure moments. But obviously at the moment, it’s very strange.

“It’s the silence. You’ve got to be careful what you’re saying because everyone can hear you now!”

There could be quite the City connection in the Newport ranks with Flynn recruiting former Valley Parade team-mates Kevin Ellison and Jamie Devitt as well as striker Jamie Proctor.

“We needed more numbers because the schedule is absolutely crazy.

“Last season it killed us because we had eight to 10 injured for 20 games plus. We only had four on the bench when we went to Bradford and two of them were youngsters.”

Devitt and Proctor could be involved for the first time after signing on loan on deadline day. Ellison, who will be 42 in February, joined in the summer after nine years with Morecambe.

Flynn added: “He’s good as gold around the place. He’s a fantastic professional, looks after himself so well and that’s why he’s been able to continue playing at the age he’s at.

“We’ve spoken a few times and it just felt right. He wanted to get stuck into a few things off the pitch as well, which is very important with us.

“You’ve got to buy into the culture and the philosophy of the area and the football club. That was important.

“He’s not come in for one final pay cheque because the wages we pay are not going to allow that. It was for all the right reasons.

"He knows he'll have to be patient and he's going to be in and out but he can still offer something.”