NEWPORT County AFC manager Michael Flynn admits it will be “very difficult” to keep Regan Poole at the club beyond the end of this season.

County academy graduate Poole has excelled since his return to Rodney Parade on loan from Manchester United in January.

The 20-year-old has played a big part in the Exiles’ success in the FA Cup and in League Two with an impressive record of 10 clean sheets in 20 appearances.

United’s loan department are keeping a close eye on Poole’s progress in Newport and the Premier League giants must decide this summer whether to extend his stay in Manchester.

“My contract is up at the end of the season, but the club has got an option to extend [for another year],” explained the defender last week.

Flynn, who was academy manager when Poole made his first team debut under Justin Edinburgh in 2014, would love his protégé to earn another year at Old Trafford.

But, even if Poole becomes a free agent in July, the Exiles boss is certain that there will be a host of clubs vying for the Wales under-21 international’s signature and he concedes that County will not be at the front of the queue.

“I’m hoping Regan fulfils his potential and plays as high as he can,” said Flynn ahead of Saturday’s home clash with League Two champions Lincoln City.

“If he gets given another year at Manchester United, then it’s great news for the lad.

“If he doesn’t then he’s got to find a place that will allow him to kickstart his career and go on to show that he can play in the Football League at a high level.

“He’s a great young player and a good lad, but it’s not in my hands,” he added.

“I think it would be very difficult to keep Regan Poole. I’m not being pessimistic, I’m a realist.

“He’s been fantastic for us. He’s a Manchester United player at present and I’m sure, if he doesn’t stay there, there’ll be a few League One clubs after him.

“And when that happens, we’re very much up against it.”

South Wales Argus:

Poole spent last season on loan at Northampton Town as they were relegated from League One, making just 24 appearances in a campaign that saw both Edinburgh and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sacked as manager.

His return to Newport has been much more enjoyable and he’s hoping that there are still six games to go rather than three as Flynn’s men chase a place in the play-offs.

“It is a gamble to go out on loan, but I do believe that every young player needs to do that to move on and make a career in the game,” said Poole.

“Some loans don’t go to plan, but you’ve just got to stick with it and hopefully your chance will come.

“It’s about trying to get as many League games as you can, because some people in academies have not played in the League and they have a big shock when they go out because it’s so different to under-23s football.

“I went out on loan last year, which benefitted me, and I think I’ve played more than 50 League games now.

“That’s huge for me. You just need to get as many as you can because it benefits you in the long run.

“I’m very happy with how this loan has gone,” he added.

“It’s all about minutes and I think I’ve played every minute since I got here, so I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

“And we’ve still got something to play for. You don’t want to be mid-table and the season finished.

“We’re still fighting going into the last couple of games and we’ll give it everything.”

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