FORMER Newport County AFC director of football Tim Harris has backed young striker Joe Parker to be a big hit at Rodney Parade.

Harris left County to take over as Gloucester City manager in February where he blooded 19-year-old Parker in the Tigers’ attack with great success.

Parker is now a fully-fledged Exile having remained at Gloucester on loan since a transfer was first agreed between the two clubs in November 2013.

And the pair will be on opposing sides this afternoon as Harris’ new club host his former club in Cinderford.

Parker is likely to start for Justin Edinburgh’s men today and Harris is in no doubt that the striker can succeed in South Wales.

“Joe is just a very good finisher, he’s got bags of ability,” said Harris.

“He’s got a lot to learn still but I think the Newport supporters got a glimpse of what he’s all about last week.

“He took his goal at Cirencester brilliantly. It’ll be a bit tougher against better opposition but he was cool and assured.

“He’s got great potential and I’m certain that Justin and the coaching staff at Newport will get the best out of him.”

Could Parker follow in the footsteps of Conor Washington, who took League Two by storm last season before sealing a move to Peterborough United?

“I don’t think you want to put too much pressure on the boy,” said Harris.

“He’s a very level-headed lad and he’ll take things in his stride and he won’t get carried away.

“He’s a work in progress; he’s got a great attitude and great potential. He’s got to fulfil that potential and if he does that he’ll be a great signing for Newport."

Harris is looking forward to this afternoon’s friendly against the club he served as player, manager and director of football.

“Newport will always be a huge part of my life and it was a very difficult decision for me to go,” he said.

“But the club has moved on to a professional footing, got back to where they belong, and they’ve got to kick on now.

“And, with my business commitments, the opportunity to go back to a part-time role at Gloucester was the right decision for me.

“The timing probably wasn’t what I would have wanted,” he added. “It would have been better to leave at the end of last season but then the opportunity probably wouldn’t have been there.

“I’ve got Matt Rose as my assistant, who many Newport fans will remember, and I’m enjoying it immensely because I just love my football.