RENE Howe isn’t just returning to Rodney Parade as a new player, he’s a new man and ready to shine for the Amber Army.

The 27-year old was a disappointment for the Exiles last term, scoring three goals in 16 games after joining Justin Edinburgh’s side from Burton Albion in January.

Howe never looked fully fit and he admits that was indeed the case, but adds there were several reasons why the County faithful are yet to see the best of him.

But having lost 5kg in weight and with six goals under his belt already in pre-season, Howe believes he’s ready to shine this term and to show fans the real him.

“I was behind when I arrived, I can’t argue with that and it wasn’t just fitness,” he told the Argus.

“My partner and I had a baby, my Mrs and I got married as well and we had some other distractions, my in-laws had some ill health and I wasn’t always in for training, family always comes first,” he explained.

“But it’s different now, my personal life is a lot more settled and I’ve been raring to go in pre-season, I’m the first one to arrive at training in the morning.

“It’s all been paying off, I’ve felt like a different player in pre-season, I came back from my honeymoon at the same weight and since we’ve been doing the fitness I’ve lost 5kgs, which is a good result in anyone’s book.

“We’ve got big competition and I know if I don’t play well I won’t play at all, it keeps you on your toes.”

Howe believes his new responsibilities, as a husband and a father, will also impact his game.

“It’s different, married life is fantastic, my wedding was unforgettable and even just talking and saying the word ‘wife’ it lifts you up and spurs you on,” he said.

“I’ve got more responsibility, that family unit relying on me and I need to do well for them.”

Howe is expecting County to play 4-3-3 this season and insists he will be happy to play anywhere across the front three for the Exiles.

“When I signed for Rushden and played for Justin it was on the wing, I’ve played there before and I enjoy it, I would ideally be through the middle, but you’ve got to do a job for the team,” he said.

“I just want to have a much better season this time around, I’ve settled in down here in South Wales, it’s a lovely place to live and I’m focused on having a great season.

“I am home within ten minutes from training, I’ve got my family around me, I am very happy in Newport and enjoy taking my little boy to Tredegar Park.”

Howe feels boss Edinburgh has found a good pre-season blend between fitness work and ball work.

“It feels like it has been a long month, we’ve done double sessions every single day and it feels like it, we’re all sharp and this week we’ve had a more normal week, building up to the weekend,” he said.

“The manager here mixes it up a bit more, every gaffer is different and I’ve played at clubs where you literally don’t see a ball in pre-season, it’s only fitness.

“We’ve been playing football as well and for me, that’s been a good thing.”