NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh was delighted to welcome a fully fit squad to the club’s new training base on the first day of pre-season yesterday.
With the exception of second choice goalkeeper Jamie Stephens, who is still recovering from an operation on his quad muscles, every player should be available for the first pre-season friendly at Evesham United next Tuesday.
That’s in stark contrast to 12 months ago when the Exiles had big injury doubts over key players Christian Jolley, Aaron O’Connor and Max Porter.
All three missed large chunks of the season but Edinburgh is confident that things will be different this time round.
“The boys have come back in really good shape,” said the Exiles boss.
“Testing was done in the morning, then we did some running and a bit of ball work in the afternoon.
“Barring Jamie Stephens, everyone took part in the first session and we’re just building Ismail Yakubu up to the ball work but everyone else took a full part in training.
“It’s very different to last year where we obviously carried quite a few injuries into pre-season and I’m really pleased that we come into it with a clean bill of health.
“Jamie did some handling work with Lenny Pidgeley and (goalkeeping coach) Ryan Mackerness but he’s not at the kicking stage yet,” he added.
“He’s progressing well but he won’t be fit for the first three or four friendly games.”
Byron Anthony also trained with the squad and Edinburgh is pleased with the defender’s progress as he too recovers from surgery to ease the pain in the leg he broke last August.
“Byron took a full part in training,” he said. “He’s on a month to month contract at the moment and we just want to make sure that his progression is correct.
“I have no doubt it will be and Byron knows it is no slur on him, it’s just that the club suffered a lot with injuries last season.
“We want to make sure everything is right before we sign him on and I’ve no doubt it will be.”
Edinburgh was speaking at the former Bar Amber at Spytty Park, which is being transformed into the club’s new training base.
The squad trained at the Newport International Sports Village yesterday but they will use Llanwern High School throughout the season having abandoned their agreement with the Cardiff University Sports Fields in Llanrumney.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the new training base,” said Edinburgh. “I think it’s another progression for the football club and a lot of hard work has gone into it.
“It’s not finished yet but it certainly will give us a base, which is something we’ve desperately needed.
“I’m very impressed with everything that’s been done the end of the month it will be somewhere we can call home.”