DEFENDER Ismail Yakubu is close to a return to full fitness but he knows he’s got a fight on his hands to reclaim his starting place for Newport County AFC.

The 28-year-old has missed the last three games after a recurrence of his thigh injury against Exeter City on March 16.

And he’s had to watch from the stands as new signings Darcy Blake and Kevin Feely have made an immediate impact with two clean sheets in the win at Torquay United and the home draw with Bury on Tuesday.

“They’ve done really well,” he said of Wales international Blake and Irish under-21 ace Feely.

“They’ve done a really good job since they’ve come in and that’s all you can ask for really.

“The gaffer has made some good additions to the squad and hopefully we can kick on now and really get out of the rut that we’ve been in.

“We still think we can push for the play-offs and two clean sheets is a great start to climbing back up the table.”

Yakubu could be fit for Saturday’s eagerly anticipated home clash with Portsmouth but he’s more likely to be available for the trip to Chesterfield on April 5.

“I’m going to be training with the team Thursday and Friday and I’m really close to being back,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll be back in the next week or so, maybe the game at Chesterfield. I’m doing good and feeling really positive.

“It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere against Portsmouth this weekend with them bringing so many fans down here.

“Unfortunately I missed the game down there through injury so it would be great if I was fit for this one,” he added.

“That’s not up to me but I know the boys will be up for it and now that we’ve got two clean sheets on the bounce and a win and a draw we’ve got to keep that momentum going.

“We want to be more positive that we have been over the past few months and able to express ourselves on the pitch a lot more – like we did at the start of the season. We need to get back to that positive feeling again.”