NEWPORT County AFC manager Justin Edinburgh is hoping for two big fitness boosts this week as the build-up to the new season steps up a gear.
County host a Swansea City XI at Rodney Parade tomorrow night before welcoming back Sam Foley as Yeovil Town come to Newport on Friday night.
And with the big Blue Square Bet Premier kick-off at Mansfield Town now just 12 days away, Edinburgh is optimistic that goalkeeper Alan Julian and central defender Ismail Yakubu will be fit to face the Stags.
New signing Julian has a cruciate knee ligament injury, which he sustained in a clash with fellow new boy Tony James in the friendly at Undy Athletic. And Yakubu, who has not featured in pre-season so far, has a long-standing hand injury.
"We’ve got Alan Julian coming back on Monday," said Edinburgh. "He’s been at Lilleshall doing some rehab up there and we’ll have a discussion with him and our physio, Wayne Jones, about how far away he is from being able to start the season."
If Julian is not fit to start on August 11, Edinburgh will have to decide whether to sign young triallist Joe Perry or look to bring in a more experienced ’keeper on loan .
"I think Joe has done very well but I have to make the decision over whether he’s ready to start the season and I may have to bring another goalkeeper in for a month until Alan does get fit," said the Exiles boss.
"In defence I don’t see there being a problem with Ismail’s hand," he added. "He has his final operation on Tuesday morning, which will allow him to play again.
"He’s done all the training and I know he’s kept himself in good shape and he’ll be ready to step in.
"The youth team will be playing on Thursday and he should be able to play in that and maybe a few more minutes against Yeovil and then we’ll take it from there."
The arrival of Mike Flynn and Aaron O’Connor last week brought Edinburgh’s total of permanent summer signings to 12 and he says there won’t be many more arrivals.
"I would say the permanent business is done now but we may need to dip into the loan market to cover any injuries," he explained.
"We feel good about the work we’ve done, Tim Harris and I have signed our top targets and the ground has definitely helped. People walk into Rodney Parade and say "wow," I don’t think they’d have said that about Spytty Park. The future looks good for us."