NEWPORT County could face a striker crisis when they travel to Fratton Park on Saturday, writes Michael Pearlman.

The Exiles appeared in rude health at the start of the campaign with seven forwards to pick from, but they might be down to the bare bones for the daunting trip to face Portsmouth.

The Blues are unbeaten in the league over 12 games since Andy Awford took charge last season and are considered by the bookies as the second favourites to win League Two this term.

And Newport may well have to do it the hard way on Saturday with four strikers potentially missing.

Long-term absentees Danny Crow and Rene Howe, who last week ruptured a thigh muscle, are definitely missing while both Chris Zebroski (groin) and Aaron O’Connor (dead leg) are expected to face late fitness tests. Neither player has been able to train so far this week.

Even if both players are fit, boss Edinburgh is unlikely to risk them both and that could mean a first league start for striker Shaun Jeffers, with Christian Jolley and Joe Parker also hopeful on an opportunity to impress.

“Shaun is in our thinking anyway, I think he deserves his chance, he made a good impression on Saturday and he scored at Reading.

“We might think about freshening the frontline up on Saturday anyway to make sure we are getting full use of the squad.”

O’Connor, who spent 10 months on the sidelines with a groin injury, admits his heart goes out to striker Howe.

“I sent him a message just to say keep your head up,” said O’Connor.

“Obviously he’s got people here who have been through the same thing so he’ll be around the right people.

“I haven’t seen him since it happened but I’m sure he’ll be alright.

“It’s a shame for him because this is the best I’ve seen him,” he added.

“I’ve played with him before and this is the best shape he’s been in.

“He had a good pre-season and I think he would have been important for us and had a good season so I’m disappointed for him.”