NEWPORT County boss Justin Edinburgh is happy with the current state of affairs with his squad despite them slipping to a surprise 3-1 defeat at Undy Athletic.
The Exiles were well beaten by the MacWhirter Welsh League, Division Two outfit on Friday night at the Causeway on a virtually waterlogged pitch.
The Exiles fielded a mixture of first and youth team players and several trialists but could in all honesty have lost by a greater margin.
However, Edinburgh, who will this week push on with his efforts to strengthen with new arrivals expected, was far from disheartened.
“That was our first game and came on the back of five days of double training sessions, so I’d have been surprised if they looked sharper,” he said.
“Probably if it hadn’t been for plenty of people turning up and us wanting to support Undy the game wouldn’t have gone ahead, but it was a good work out for us.
“It’s an important pre-season and one where we’ll have to work hard. We aren’t just trying to get the players fit and ready, we are trying to change the philosophy and the style of our play. We want to play a shorter passing game and that needs to be worked at.”
The Exiles will retain the services of all of their trialists for a second week and Edinburgh insists Friday’s conditions made it impossible for him to get a true impression.
Former Neath wingers Chris Jones and Kerry Morgan both started with ex-County man Morgan certain to be well received by Newport’s fans should he be retained.
Other candidates included ex-Bristol Rovers full-back Mark Cooper, former Swansea youth captain Sam Roden, ex-Hereford United midfielder Sam Gwynne and goalkeeper Ashley Morris, formerly with Llanelli and Merthyr.
The Exiles are also taking a second look at Curtis Hutson, a striker with an interesting back story. Not only is he the cousin of Wales and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs – his mother Donna is first cousin to Giggs’ father – but he is returning to the game after being diagnosed with epilepsy as a 15-year old.
At the time Hutson was a Wales youth international and being primed for a professional contract at Cardiff City, but his health problems saw his weight balloon as he became reclusive and stopped playing.
Now the 17-year old is back and hoping for a deal with the Exiles and to be a role model for kids with epilepsy.
“It gave me inspiration to work harder and be stronger and go on in my football career,” he said.
“I always wanted to be a different story and someone people can look up to – it doesn’t have to be the end of your life.
“Having epilepsy was really bad and took a big chunk out of my life and my confidence. My weight went up to 14st and I couldn’t do anything, I was on tablets and I had to go to Great Ormond Street Hospital because they couldn’t work out what was wrong with me.
“I didn’t want to go out or be seen, I was feeling so low. It was like I felt as if it was a disease that was going to kill me.”
Edinburgh said on the trialists: “It wouldn’t be fair to judge on one game even if the conditions had been good,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed the character and talent of the players who have come to train with us and we’re keen to have a further look at them.”