SEAN Rigg believes increased competition for places in the starting XI will help Newport County AFC build on their encouraging start to the League Two campaign.

Rigg says it’s tougher than ever to nail down a regular starting spot for County this season and that’s a key reason for their progress.

The Exiles were second in the table before the unfortunate 1-0 defeat at leaders Exeter City last Saturday, which saw them drop to seventh.

But, having played four of their five league games away from home, Michael Flynn’s men are four points better off compared to this stage 12 months ago in Rigg’s first season at Rodney Parade.

“Saturday was very frustrating,” said Rigg. “We had a few chances and if we’d put them away it would have been a different story.

“But there are some positives to take from it. We played really well against the top team and that shows that we’re improving after last year.

“We’ve had a good start and hopefully we can build on that. We’ve had some good results and we’ll move on.

“It’s still early days but I think we’ll be fine,” he added.

“It’s been a very good start. We’ve shown we can play well against the best in the league so we’ll build on that, keep on improving and go for the three points next week.”

Rigg will be hoping to fend off the challenge of youngsters Tom Owen-Evans and Reece Cole to retain his place in the side for the visits of Wycombe Wanderers this coming Saturday and Cheltenham Town next Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to two home games,” said the former Bristol Rovers forward, who turns 29 on October 1.

“The pitch is really nice and hopefully it will stay like that this year.

“It’s always good to have a week off [from playing] and re-energise.

“We’ve got good competition now so I was happy to come back in and I’ve got to keep my place in the team now,” he added.

“I’ve got to put the performances in and make sure I work hard and do my best for the team.

“You need that competition because if you’re expecting to play every week it’s a bad thing.

“It’s good to have that and I’ll be doing my best to keep my place.”

Rigg is also keen to encourage young talent like academy graduate Owen-Evans and Cole, who is on loan from Brentford.

“We’ve got some promising young talent coming through with Tom and Reece on loan and a few more as well,” he said.

“I remember when I was a young boy but time goes by so fast and the next thing you know you’re an old pro.

“They keep you on your toes and if they come in they do well so it’s good.

“We always try to help the young boys out and push them in the right direction.”