NEWPORT County’s only pile-up is with fixtures – as their standing-room only status in the treatment room has substantially eased, the Argus can exclusively reveal.
Indeed, so positive is the news from the County medical department that even long-term broken leg victim Byron Anthony is closing in on a first-team return.
The Argus can reveal that Anthony, defenders Harry Worley and Andrew Hughes, midfielder Max Porter and goalkeepers Lenny Pidgeley and Jamie Stephens are all now involved in full training after spells on the sidelines and all trained on Saturday and Monday.
And striker Chris Zebroski, who the Exiles privately feared could miss the remainder of the campaign, has stepped up his own rehabilitation from a dislocated kneecap and is now running at full tilt.
That means only Aaron O’Connor is still unable to train, but as stated previously, both the player and the club are hopeful he’s coming to the end of his rehabilitation from a chronic groin problem that has sidelined him for the majority of the past year.
However, it is the return of Anthony that is sure to most enthral supporters.
The popular Newport-born defender broke his leg in two places in August in an unfortunate incident at Brighton in the Capital One Cup.
The severity of the injury made a return for Anthony less than certain, but he’s defied the prognosis and is now back in training having been signed off in a final consultation with his specialist.
Manager Justin Edinburgh, who faces three games in six days starting with the trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, believes his returning walking wounded will negate the need to further boost his squad in the January transfer window.
“We have done absolutely everything possible to get the boys fit and ready for us and finally, the hard work of the staff and the players themselves is paying off,” Edinburgh told the Argus.
“Max Porter is back in full training and hasn’t had any reactions, Andrew Hughes and Harry Worley are back and the game being off on Saturday (against Dagenham) means Lenny Pidgeley is going to get a full two weeks where he should get his thumb fully healed.
“We also have Zeb (Chris Zebroski) ahead of where we expected. He’s running now, sprinting, but isn’t quite ready for full contact training. But the most satisfying one I suppose is Byron. He’s back training and that gives everyone a huge boost.”
When asked if Anthony’s speed of recovery had surprised him, Edinburgh didn’t mince his words. “It’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “He’s worked so hard and we are all really positive to have him back, his return gives all the players a boost.”
And the returnees will curtail any potential spending, Edinburgh content to make Rene Howe his only January signing.
“The only scenario now where I see us signing anyone is if we lose a player we don’t want to lose,” he confirmed.
“But at the moment we’ve had no offers for any of our players and hope that’s how it continues.”