PAUL Hayes admits he is “miles behind" being match fit but is still desperate to make up for lost time and repay the faith Newport County AFC have put in him since signing last autumn.

The FA Cup win over Leeds United was not only a momentous day for the Exiles but also gave the fans their first glimpse of striker Hayes in a County shirt.

Despite arriving at Rodney Parade in mid-October, Hayes couldn’t play until the New Year due to unforeseen registration complications.

But now that problem is firmly behind him, the 34-year-old has set his sights on a big finish to the season.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to it,” he told iFollow Exiles. “I’ve had a long break now, those three or four months were the longest of my

career, so I’m looking forward to playing my part and I’m pretty sure the fans will be looking to see me contribute and play my part.”

Hayes’ move to County came after a conversation with boss Michael Flynn on social networking website LinkedIn.

He added: “There was nothing out there that really interested me or floated my boat.

“But I got LinkedIn and the gaffer messaged me on there because we followed each other straight away.

“He asked me if I had retired so I said that I hadn’t but was waiting for an offer that interested me.

“So he said for us to have a chat and, as they say, the rest is history.

“We had a good chat, I spoke to the chairman as well and within a day or two we decided that it was the right move for me and the team.

“Obviously those complications with the contract dragged it out a little bit but I just want to say that the club have been absolutely fantastic and spot on to me.

“When they found out that I couldn’t play for a while they could have terminated the contract, but they stood by me.

“I was grateful for that and I just have to repay the faith that the club and the manager have put in me.

“I’m looking forward now to playing for Newport and cracking on with my career.”

After making his Exiles debut as a second-half substitute last Sunday, the former Wycombe Wanderers and Scunthorpe United forward would love to be involved at Grimsby Town on Saturday.

However, he knows he is some way off claiming a place in Flynn’s starting XI.

“I’m looking forward to the game and being part of Newport going there and hopefully doing the business and getting the three points,” he said.

“I’m miles behind match fitness but you are only going to get that by playing games.

“The gaffer has done well to bring me on with five minutes left (against Leeds) and allow me to get the taste back for it and open up the lungs again.

“Starting wise, I don’t think I’m fully there yet because I obviously haven’t played any games for three months.

“It’s a long time but I think I’m experienced enough and have played enough games that if the gaffer needs to play me or start me then I’ll be fine.

“I won’t be as sharp or as good as I can be, but you take each game as it comes.

“If I have to start then I’ll do everything I can for the club, if I come off the bench then I’ll do everything I can.

“The gaffer picks the team so whoever he chooses will go out there and do their best.”