PRIESTLEY Farquharson is closing in on a return for Newport County AFC with boss James Rowberry excited by the athletic defender’s potential.

The 24-year-old centre-back has not featured for the first team since September after suffering a knee injury in a development fixture.

Farquharson is back in training and will soon be providing manager James Rowberry with another defensive option in League Two.

"Priestley is close to a return," said Rowberry. "He has had a bit of a tough time through injury and then contracting Covid.

"He has come back and we have a real chance of developing a good player there, I really like Priestley.

"In training, in and around the building, he is a terrific lad who is very humble, welcoming, polite and well-mannered.

"Then when he is on the pitch he is an athlete, someone I see as having the athletic prowess to play in this division. We can help by developing his ball-carrying ability.

"We have got Wayne [Hatswell, first team coach], who played in the same position, albeit left-sided, to help with the opportunity of developing a young player who came through the Welsh Premier League."

South Wales Argus: POWERFUL: County defender Priestley Farquharson is close to a returnPOWERFUL: County defender Priestley Farquharson is close to a return

Farquharson signed from Connah’s Quay Nomads last January and made 16 appearances for Michael Flynn’s side, coming off the bench in all three play-off fixtures.

The central defender had a testing start to the current campaign but showed his potential with a superb cameo off the bench against Leyton Orient, when he came on to deal with the physicality of striker Harry Smith after he had been bullying the defence.

Marrying that power with decision-making on and off the ball - with County keen to build from the back - will be key for the Englishman.

County have predominantly gone with a defensive three of Mickey Demetriou, Matty Dolan and James Clarke under Rowberry.

Utility man Scot Bennett has returned from a broken metatarsal to provide cover in recent weeks.

Academy graduate Joe Woodiwiss, who is yet to make his League Two debut, was on the bench at Rochdale last time out.

County are poised to return to action at Walsall tomorrow after a pair of postponements.