Justin Edinburgh wields the axe on trio
NEWPORT County AFC boss Justin Edinburgh yesterday told three members of his squad to find new clubs.
Goalkeeper Alan Julian, winger Ben Swallow and midfielder Scott Donnelly join Jake Harris, Will Evans, Michael Boateng and Joe Perry in leaving Rodney Parade. Midfielder Jake Thomson has also been released.
The former Tottenham defender has now spoken to every player in his first team squad and has agreed fresh terms with all but defender Ismail Yakubu and strikers Rhys Griffiths and Aaron O’Connor.
That means Lenny Pidgeley, David Pipe, Andrew Hughes Andy Sandell, Tony James, Byron Anthony, Lee Minshull, Mike Flynn, Danny Crow, Christian Jolley, Robbie Willmott and Conor Washington are secured for next term.
It is understood the Exiles are confident Yakubu will opt to remain at the club, but O’Connor is in demand and has received an offer from another suitor.
However, boss Edinburgh is hoping his relationship with the player will prove enough to keep last season’s top scorer for at least another season and Griffiths should also stay on a l continued from back page short-term deal. Boss Edinburgh was delighted to have achieved so much in just 48 hours since Wednesday’s open top bus parade through the city.
“To have all but two (O’Connor and Yakubu) in the bag at this stage is a real boost to us,” he said.
“It clearly shows that we have a group who are very together and keen to keep progressing and moving this club forward.
“I believe this to be a special group of players and I feel there is more to come from them.
“The way we performed in the three play-off games shows that they have the drive and the desire to succeed in the most testing times and I think there is more to come from this group.”
Edinburgh also admitted the three released players had been extremely unlucky.
“Alan Julian just had such an unfortunate time with us from minute one,” said the manager.
“He was injured in pre-season and then we had to go and get Lenny Pidgeley to cover his injury.
“He’s too good a goalkeeper to be an automatic number two.
“Ben Swallow has also been unlucky with injuries and he needs regular football at his age (23), which I am not sure I can offer him.
“It’s the same with Scott. He’s done very well for us but can I see him starting a lot of games next season? If I’m honest, probably not.”
The Exiles will leave next week for a team-building/bonding holiday to Portugal and Edinburgh is hopeful that the Yakubu and O’Connor situations will be settled by then one way or the other.
However, irrespective of those negotiations, Edinburgh is already working on bringing some fresh blood into his ranks.
He met an agent yesterday to discuss two potential transfer targets and is also trying to complete a deal to take a midfielder on a Bosman free transfer.
“We have an excellent opportunity to really push this club on now,” said Edinburgh.
“We’ve had a week of revelry and celebration, but the hard work begins now.”
The Argus can also confirm director of football Tim Harris is working on securing County a permanent training base for next term.
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