NEWPORT County boss Justin Edinburgh believes Southend United and Burton Albion are two of the strongest sides he has taken on this season.
But he feels the Shrimpers could well have the edge when the two teams meet in the play-offs.
Edinburgh, a former Blues defender, guided Newport to a 14th place finish in their first season back in the Football League.
And he is now intrigued as to how the play-offs will unfold.
“I would say Southend and Burton are definitely two of the strongest teams we’ve played this season and it’s going to be very even between them,” said Edinbrugh, who made 47 appearances for the Shrimpers at the start of his own playing career.
“I don’t think there is going to be much in it at all, maybe only the odd goal but I think Southend might just edge it.”
Newport beat Blues 3-1 at Rodney Parade in October before holding them to a 0-0 draw at Roots Hall in January.
But Edinburgh, who intends to be at the second leg, was still impressed by the Shrimpers.
“Southend’s midfield three are the best in the league and Ryan Leonard has always been excellent when I’ve seen him,” said the 44-year-old.
“I really don’t understand why he wasn’t in the PFA team of the year.”
However, Edinburgh also feels Burton have the players to be able to hurt the Shrimpers and singled out top goalscorer Billy Kee as their main danger.
“Kee is an intelligent player as he drops back in to positions where people are not sure if they should follow him,” said Edinburgh.
“Burton also have good wingers and that’s going to a very important battle because Southend’s full-backs like to try and get forward, especially Ben Coker.”
Edinburgh also fully understands the excitement of the play-offs after winning promotion that way with Newport, from the Conference, last season.
The Welshmen beat Grimsby Town in the semi-finals before seeing off Wrexham at Wembley.
And he therefore knows what it takes to come out on top.
“You have to make sure the players play the game and not the occasion,” said Edinburgh.
“I was watching the Conference semi-final between Grimsby and Gateshead the other day and Grimsby had two players sent off.
“You just can’t afford for that to happen and you have to make sure the players stick to the game plan.”