11:30am Monday 7th May 2012
By Andrew Penman
FORMER Wales hero John Hartson has backed Newport County to win the FA Trophy on Saturday.
The ex-Wales international striker had a short spell on the coaching staff at Spytty Park last season and he’s delighted that the County players will get the chance to shine at Wembley.
That is something that Hartson never experienced, despite a top-flight career that included stints at Arsenal, West Ham and Celtic and saw him win 51 caps for his country.
“Newport have done great and I’m delighted for Justin Edinburgh, Tim Harris and all the boys at the club,” said the 37-year-old, who now works as a media pundit.
“I spent six weeks there last season doing a bit of coaching and they are a great bunch of lads.
“Justin has done very well to secure their place in the Blue Square Bet Premier. Now they can all enjoy the cup final and I think they have a real chance of winning it.”
Hartson says that County are playing their full part in a wonderful year for the top Welsh clubs, with Swansea City riding high in the Premier League after winning the Championship play-off 12 months ago and Cardiff City making the Carling Cup final.
“To follow what Swansea and Cardiff have done and get to Wembley is fantastic and will really put Newport back on the map,” said Hartson.
“Hopefully Cardiff and Wrexham can make it to their respective play-off finals as well and really cap off a great year for club football in Wales.”
At one stage last year Hartson was thought to be a leading contender to replace Dean Holdsworth as County manager, but he says that was never a realistic prospect.
“I enjoyed my time there but I was never in for the job,” he explained. “They asked me to put in my CV for consideration but I was committed to my media career so it was never really an option.
“But it’s a great club and all the foundations are there for them to progress and eventually make it back into the Football League.
“I hope they go out at Wembley, enjoy the experience and do themselves justice on the day. And hopefully they will bring the trophy back to Wales.”
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