BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee believes Newport County have every chance of competing for promotion in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season.

The former Wolves and Aberdeen boss saw the Exiles at close quarters on Tuesday night and believes they can vastly improve on their league travails of last term.

“I thought Newport were absolutely excellent, I was really impressed by them,” he said.

“They were clearly well conditioned and well coached and physically they were quick.

“I had no complaints about the result, I thought they were better than us.

“It’s difficult for me to assess (where they can finish) as I haven’t seen the rest of the Conference but you’d expect on the basis of what I’ve seen Newport will give themselves every chance to challenge,” he said.

“Certainly it’ll take a very good side at that level to beat them.”

McGhee was impressed with the facilities at Rodney Parade and feels it’s a league worthy ground.

“The venue is absolutely great, I had no complaints about the pitch which was very good and for us it was a great exercise, the competition was excellent as were the conditions. We did a lot of chasing of the ball and that was good preparation,” he said.

“Obviously it wouldn’t look out of place in the Football League.”

McGhee also gave his backing to Pill youngster Ellis Harrison, 18, who has just signed pro forms at Rovers.

“Ellis is a player I have high hopes for, he’s physically a strong specimen, has good skills and he’s a lovely boy to work with,” he said.

“He’s a boy who wants to improve and he has a chance.

“There are a lot of people ahead of him at the moment but if he works hard he’ll at least have a chance to make an impression from the bench, or he’ll be loaned out to get some experience.”