NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh says his decision to drop captain Andy Sandell and experienced defender Ismail Yakubu shows that nobody is bigger than the team.
Ryan Jackson and Andrew Hughes came into the side and Darren Jones took the captain’s armband as County earned their first point of the League Two season with a 1-1 draw at home to Burton Albion on Saturday.
Edinburgh’s relief after three league defeats and a cup exit was tempered by the news that striker Rene Howe could be out for the season.
The 27-year-old missed the clash with his former side after rupturing a thigh muscle in training on Thursday and he now requires surgery.
“I said to the players that as long as the performances were there that we would turn it around,” said Edinburgh after Chris Zebroski’s opener was cancelled out by John Mousinho.
“We’ve given ourselves something to build on and we’ve got to make sure this is where our season starts.
“We’d like to be playing Tuesday but we’ve got a bit of a rest ahead of a tough task at Portsmouth.”
On the changes to his starting XI, the Exiles boss said: “We couldn’t continue to let players make mistakes because we were unfortunately being punished for them.
“Both Ish and Sands know that their performances haven’t been up to the standards that they’ve showed over the past two or three seasons.
“It was a big call and as a manager you have to do that but I thought it was the right one.
“I thought Ryan Jackson looked a real threat, as did Robbie Willmott, and Andrew Hughes was outstanding.
“Darren will be captain if Andy and Ish are out of the team,” he added. “His experience showed as he marshalled Feely and Hughes.
“I’ve got a good squad here; probably the best I’ve had for a long while and I’m able to make changes now if players don’t meet the standards they’ve set.”
Edinburgh admits that losing Howe is a big blow and it may force him back into the transfer market.
“We’ll see where we are,” he said. “We’ve got forwards. They’re not quite meeting the standards they have but it’s early yet and we need to get partnerships going.
“It’s a huge disappointment for Rene and the club. He’ll need surgery and once he’s had that we’ll know a little bit more but it looks like his season is over.
“He worked hard over the summer and he came back and looked sharp. His play had been good and he looked like he was getting better so it’s a big blow.
“For any player to have a major injury is a real big blow but we’ve got to make sure he gets the right care and we get him back as soon as possible.”