AS his injury and weather worries finally begin to recede, manager Justin Edinburgh insists the winter of discontent will make Newport County AFC stronger in the long run, writes Andrew Penman.
The Exiles boss is hopeful that the pitch problems at Rodney Parade, which have seen six home matches postponed since December 21, are now at an end.
And with a near fully fit squad for today’s home clash with Cheltenham Town on the back of Tuesday’s fine win over Oxford United, things are looking up for Edinburgh.
“We have to take a lot from last season,” said the Exiles boss. “There was a lot against us then and it’s the same this season but the squad is the healthiest it has been all year now.
“We’ve only got three players missing now in Lenny Pidgeley, Jamie Stephens and Aaron O’Connor and they’re all progressing nicely and we’re going to need everyone fit with nine games in March.
“A lot of obstacles have been put in our way and our task is to overcome them.
“All the players have shown great mental strength and I think long-term this season will make us all stronger.
“Our squad players have become first team players and a lot of players have grown up so there are a lot of positives to come out of all the tough times.”
A good example of Edinburgh’s strength through adversity theory is the case of Robbie Willmott, who has been his most consistent performer in a difficult campaign.
“Robbie’s played 30 games already this season and he and me probably wouldn’t have thought that would be the case at the start of the season,” said Edinburgh.
“But he’s seized his opportunity and been excellent throughout the campaign.”
County are still without the suspended Harry Worley against Cheltenham today but O’Connor is likely to take part in the warm-up again and could be ready to play again within a matter of weeks.
“Credit to our physio Adam Roche,” said the Exiles boss. “He’s worked tirelessly with the players since he’s come in and thankfully we’re starting reap the rewards at the crucial end of the season.
“Aaron is progressing well and I would think that he’d be back in training next week.
“And as we’ve seen when players have come back from long-term injuries they’ve been able to pick up the pace quite quickly and we’re hopeful that it can be the same with Azza.”