NEWPORT County goalkeeper Alan Julian faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the Blue Square Bet Premier season.

The former Gillingham and Stevenage stopper, who joined County last month, has been ruled out for between four and six weeks with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The Exiles begin their league campaign at Mansfield Town on Saturday, August 11, meaning Julian is unlikely to be fit to start at Field Mill.

The news comes as a big blow to manager Justin Edinburgh, who saw his side win 3-0 in a pre-season friendly at Evesham United on Saturday.

“It’s nice to get the win because winning becomes a habit and we got through without any injuries as well, which is a big plus,” said the Exiles boss.

“Tony James and Ryan Charles should be fit for next week but we’ve had a bit of bad news with Alan Julian. He’s got a slight strain of his cruciate ligament. “We sent him for a scan and got the results on Friday and we’re hoping he won’t be out for any longer than four to six weeks.

“We’ll have to assess that once the specialist and the radiologist have a look at it today and then we’ll know more.

“It’s a massive blow for the boy and the football club but it could have been more severe than it was,” he added. “It was just an innocuous challenge when he and Tony James collided at Undy and it could have happened at any time of any game or any training session.

“He’s devastated but he’s a solid pro and he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

“It’s touch and go whether he makes it back for the first game of the season but he’s a strong character and if there’s a challenge then he’ll meet it head on.”

The good news for Edinburgh is that he and director of football Tim Harris have convinced chairman Chris Blight to loosen the purse strings and there is more room in the budget to pursue several transfer targets over the coming days.

“We’ve been given the go-ahead to secure some more signings,” said Edinburgh.

“It’s for me now to use the money wisely and bring a few players in over the next week, hopefully.

“I’m delighted with that and it’s another indication of the backing we’re getting from the board and the drive for success at this football club.”