NEWPORT County AFC are poised to return to action in League Two at Walsall on New Year's Day, as long as they get through one more round of coronavirus testing.

The Exiles have not played since the December 18 defeat at Rochdale because of outbreaks.

The first was in the Forest Green Rovers camp, leading to the postponement of the Boxing Day fixture at Rodney Parade, then County were unable to field a team for Wednesday's scheduled trip to Leyton Orient.

The Omicron variant led the English Football League to demand enhanced training ground protocols and daily testing.

James Rowberry's squad trained on Wednesday, only heading in after a negative result, and have Thursday off.

They will have another round of tests ahead of Friday's final preparations for Walsall and it will be game on as long as there is not a batch of positives in either camp.

"As the situation currently stands the fixture is planned to go ahead. However, the club is completing the mandatory EFL daily testing of players and therefore the situation remains fluid," read a County statement.

"If there are any developments to the contrary, we will inform supporters as soon as possible."

Forwards Alex Fisher and Lewis Collins will be back in the mix for selection after testing positive ahead of the trip to Rochdale and completing their isolation.

South Wales Argus: Scot Bennett in action for County at Walsall last seasonScot Bennett in action for County at Walsall last season

Walsall will be desperate for the game to be played with fans still allowed into grounds in England, a situation that will lead to a considerable away contingent given that County will host Salford behind closed doors in Newport on January 8.

The Saddlers haven't been in action since a 3-0 win against Colchester United on December 11 with fixtures against Swindon Northampton and Bradford City all postponed due to issues in the opposition squads.

"It's given the players extra time that they wouldn't have had previously on the grass to train," said Walsall manager Matt Taylor.

"Spirits are high, we're fortunate that during this period at the moment that we can still carry on training.

"We're really lucky with the training ground and how the club was set up with Covid and the restrictions and it's been very easy for us to fall back into those measures.

"It's imperative we keep everybody safe but the players have been exceptional in terms of their attitude towards coming in and continuing training."

"It's something that's allowed us to get some extra training into players that maybe needed to be up to speed but also the players that were injured and have been injured for a period of time, this obviously gives them slightly longer to get back into training with the group," he continued.

"We're in relatively good shape on that front at the moment. We've got a couple of injuries but the players, the ones that are fit, they're training really hard and we're getting to a point where we're starting to reintroduce players back into sessions as well.

"At some point the three postponed games that we've had up to this point are going to have to be played somewhere else in the season.

"There will be a congested period I'm sure very soon but everyone's going to have to deal with it, we're all in the same boat.

"What I will say, at the moment, it's been a slight positive. It's given us a chance to get other players back onto the training ground."