NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh has hailed the signing of midfielder Mark Byrne as the final piece in the jigsaw as he prepares for the new season.
Byrne has agreed a short-term contract until January to fill the gap left by last week’s injury to Max Porter.
The Dublin-born 25-year-old, who previously played under Exiles boss Justin Edinburgh at Rushden & Diamonds, has been on trial with County during pre-season and scored at Evesham United last week.
“We’ve signed Mark up until January as that takes us up to the maximum budget at the present,” said Edinburgh.
“If we’re successful on the pitch the budget will increase and will be able to increase the length of Mark’s stay.
“We’re delighted to get the deal done, especially with what happened to Max Porter in the first game.
“I worked for a year with Mark at Rushden and he’s a modern day midfield player,” he added.
“I’m looking forward to working with him and I’m sure he’ll be a crowd favourite.”
Edinburgh is looking for Byrne and fellow new boy Yan Klukowski to provide extra firepower from midfield once the League Two campaign begins on August 9.
“Mark’s good in the air and he gets goals from midfield as well, which is something we didn’t have enough of last season,” said Edinburgh.
“Hopefully him and Yan can provide us with that now and I think Mark is the final piece in the jigsaw.”
Byrne, who was at Barnet last season, revealed that he turned down other offers to be reunited with Edinburgh at Rodney Parade.
“I’ve played a full season under Justin at Rushden and I’m very happy to link up with him again,” he said.
“I had other options but once I knew that Justin was interested I came down here as soon as possible.
“I’m a box to box midfielder and I like to chip in with a few goals as well,” he added.
“I’ve got high hopes for the season ahead. League Two is a tough league but the teams that are consistent through the winter months are the ones that do well and that’s our aim.”
Fellow trialists Sheldon Sellears, Joe Carter and Jack Simmons have not been offered contracts but Edinburgh will keep tabs on the progress of right-back Sellears at Bishop’s Stortford.
TNS winger Chris Jones is likely to get a chance to impress Edinburgh in tonight’s friendly at Weston-super-Mare (kick-off 7.45pm).
“We liked Sheldon but we felt that he wouldn’t get in the first team and that would slow his development,” Edinburgh explained.
“We’ll see Chris Jones in the next couple of games and he’ll be the final one we’ll be looking at.”
Andy Sandell could return tonight after recovering from a hamstring strain and goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley is also fit to play.