Newport County Season Preview

The Football Lab interviewed Newport County fan Gavin Potts, ahead of the new season. You can follow him on Twitter @gavin_potts2. Here, Gavin discusses the issues regarding the Rodney Parade pitch, Newport’s current options at centre-back, and credits the club’s manager, Justin Edinburgh.
Financially well-backed with an exciting young manager in Justin Edinburgh; do you feel Newport County are a club making progress?
Without doubt, it was a 25 year wait to see the team get back to the football league, Justin took over with the team on the slide in the conference premier following a number of departures, the future is bright but hoping we don’t suffer second season syndrome this year.
You only released 3 players this summer, Ryan Burge, Harry Worley and David Pipe. Were the right decisions made?Yes I think so. Pipey, while a great servant and good pro perhaps wasn’t up to the level and many in the club wish him well at Forest Green. Harry Worley’s form dipped after a bright start and Ryan Burge didnt set the world alight, Justin hasn’t got many wrong so far.Centre-back Ismail Yakubu’s had some injuries in the second half of last season. Do you think this was a factor in the poor post-Christmas form?I think Yak when fit is a very good defender at this level, however it was a spate of injuries and disruption to the fixtures which was caused by weather and a deteriorating pitch (shared by us and two rugby sides) which caused the slump.

It looks unlikely you’ll re-sign loanee Darcy Blake. Will Darren Jones and Kevin Feely be ample replacements at centre-back?

Certainly the reports from pre-season games would suggest they are forming a strong partnership, we shut out Coventry Tuesday. It is good to have a local lad back at the club who has been around at this level, and JE showed his man management skills in reversing Feely’s decision to switch to gaelic football. I also hear Blake is in talks with Oxford, while you cant doubt his class, I question the sustainability of trying to accommodate him.

Robbie Willmott featured in every single match last season. How important a player is he?

He’s being converted to right back. Certainly an energetic player who perhaps lacked that touch of quality in the final third, I think if he can work on defensive positioning he will make a strong RB for us.

Midfielder Yann Klukowski arrives from Forest Green; he’s 27, but has never played in the Football League before. What are your thoughts?

He has a good record at that level and you see how tough a league that is, rarely do those who come up go straight back down, time will tell but I am confident he can perform.

Mark Byrne worked with boss Edinburgh at Rushden & Diamonds. What do you hope he’ll add to the midfield?

Not having seen much of him I can’t really comment, however another seasoned pro who will add to the competition for places alongside others.

After Chris Zebroski, your highest scoring forward was Conor Washington, with just 4 goals. Could you do with better striking options?

That is the million dollar question which will decide how well we do this season. With Chris fit and Aaron O Connor also back from long term injury it will be interesting to see how we go, if we are coming up short I expect we will see some activity in Jan market

Rodney Parade is shared by two rugby clubs, which affects the quality of the pitch as you mentioned. Has the club tried to address this problem?

Yes, work was commisioned to implement better drainage solutions last year, but only half was completed before the season started! It is on course for completion the start of this season – fingers crossed it does the job as we like to play possession football on the deck.

With most bookmakers, Newport are at around 6/1 for promotion. Where will you finish?

Depends on the form of our strikers and us hanging on to JE, if our strikers are on form and we hang on to JE we will finish in playoffs.

TFL Verdict

Most of Newport’s signings have little Football League experience. Rather than going all out for another promotion, the club seems content with a period of steady growth. 17th

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