COUNTY v GRIMSBY (Today, KO 3pm)
NEWPORT County AFC have received a fitness boost with the news that Lee Evans’ hamstring injury is not as bad as first thought.
Evans, who picked up the injury at AFC Telford United on Tuesday, will definitely miss today’s home clash with Grimsby Town but could be back for the trip to Macclesfield in two weeks.
“It’s not quite as bad as we feared,” said club physio Wayne Jones.
“He played on for 15 minutes after he first felt it on Tuesday and that suggests it’s not a tear.
“We think it’s just a strain and he could be back in a couple of weeks, although we won’t rush him.”
That is good news for manager Justin Edinburgh who has admitted his table-topping side will miss the talented young midfielder. But the Exiles boss has strength in depth in central midfield with Max Porter, Lee Minshull, Mike Flynn and Jake Thomson likely to be battling it out for three starting places this afternoon.
And Edinburgh is confident of maintaining his side’s unbeaten record at Rodney Parade and continuing a run of three successive wins.
“Grimsby will be a test for us, but every game is in this league,” said Edinburgh.
“I don’t see Grimsby as any bigger test than Telford or South-port last Saturday.
“They’re a good side, they’ve had a good start to the season like us and we’ll expect a good game.
“But we can only worry about ourselves. We’ll concentrate on our own performances and hope to continue our great home form.
“To win on the road is fantastic and we’ll take that into Saturday and try to continue at the top of the table.
“We are certainly in a far better position than we were this time last year and the players are dealing with the pressure well.
“We are right up there but we want to keep improving. We’re a new team and we’re still learning about each other.”
One new element to the team from last season is the goal scoring prowess of Aaron O’Connor.
Edinburgh paid tribute to his nine-goal top scorer but insists that players like O’Connor’s strike partner Danny Crow are just as important.
“I worked hard to get Aaron to the football club this summer and we’re reaping the benefits of that right now but he’d be the first to say that he couldn’t do it without his teammates,” he said.
“The slide rule ball from Crowy to set up Aaron (on Tuesday) was magnificent. He got yet another assist and that shows what this group is all about.”
Defender Tony James is fit to play today after fully recovering from the strained abductor muscle that kept him out of the win over Southport last week and having three stitches in a head wound at Telford.