NEWPORT County AFC ended a run of seven home games without a win to put a smile back on the fans’ faces on Saturday and there was another reason to be cheerful as the sun shone at Rodney Parade.

As well as three points against play-off hopefuls Swindon Town, the Exiles also secured the signatures of two of their academy stars in Jay Foulston and Momodou Touray.

The news may have gone under the radar as it was announced at half-time while many fans were queuing to use the facilities or purchase a pie and a pint.

But it’s another sign of the excellent work being done at the club’s academy by the likes of Byron Anthony and Danny Elliott and the willingness of Michael Flynn and his staff to welcome promising youngsters into the first-team squad.

Foulston (below) and Touray have a long way to go before they can match the likes of fellow academy graduates Lee Evans, Regan Poole and Aaron Collins but Flynn believes they have the potential to follow in their footsteps.

South Wales Argus:

The Exiles boss said last week that Touray in particular needs to improve his fitness levels but he’s a big fan of both youngsters.

“They’ve got a chance,” he told me after Saturday’s victory.

“They deserve their contracts but they’ve got a long way to go.

“They’ve got to work hard and put in the dedication and it’s up to them now.

“We’ll have to see how they progress and we’ll give them a chance if they deserve it.

“It’s possible that they could get some minutes before the end of the season. We’ll have to see how it pans out but I would like to [give them a chance].”

Fans love nothing more than being able to sing about ‘one of their own’ and it would be a real boost if the pair, along with fellow Wales under-19 international Lewis Collins, the younger brother of Aaron, could make the breakthrough.

Exiles supporters were denied the chance to see young goalkeeper Rhys Davies and striker Rhys Kavanagh make the grade before they were poached away by Leicester City and Bristol Rovers respectively.

And both 17-year-old centre-back Foulston and 18-year-old striker Touray have already caught the eye of bigger clubs.

Norwich City took a look at Foulston in August and Leicester offered Touray a ‘work experience’ loan/trial in January.

That reflects well on the club but youngsters breaking into the first team will be even more beneficial for the club.

In the short-term it creates a feel-good factor and in the long-term it can be a financial lifeline as proved by Evans, Poole and Collins.

South Wales Argus:

Top scorer Padraig Amond is a decent judge of talent as far as strikers are concerned and, having trained with and coached Touray (above) this season he believes the Gambia-born forward has the talent to succeed.

“He has a chance,” said Amond. “Obviously he needs to work on a few things because he’s only young and he’s very raw but he has ability.

“I’ve spoken to him a few times this season and in the last few weeks I’ve done a couple of coaching sessions with the youth team.

“I try to pass on a bit of knowledge that I have and hopefully he takes the good bits rather than the bad bits because he has a real chance.

“It’s excellent for him to have signed a pro contract with the club and we’ve got three internationals in the youth team at the minute so something is being done right and it’s brilliant to see.

“The more players we can get through the better.”

To that end it’s important to note the fine work being done by the Smile Council supporters’ group in supporting the academy.

Smile Council committee member Chris Thomas recently presented academy manager Anthony with a cheque for £1,000, which was used to buy state-of-the-art filming equipment.

The Smile Council have raised more than £25,000 over the past four seasons, which has gone to the club’s junior academy, the under-18 side and to local charities such as Serennu Children’s Centre.

Anthony said: “The academy is grateful again for the support from the Smile Council committee.

“The Academy and the Smile Council have worked closely over the years, with the Smile Council making donations to help support different areas, which develops players and staff.

“The second donation this year went towards state-of-the-art filming equipment, helping to further develop the analytical side of the academy, which plays a big part in player development.”

It will be smiles all round if Foulston and Touray and those that follow them can make the step up and build a career for themselves in the Football League.