THE Newport County AFC players are determined to seal a place in the League Two play-offs tomorrow and win promotion at Wembley for their former teammate Fraser Franks.

County defender Franks made 34 appearances between August and February but he was forced to retire in March due to a heart issue.

He led out the teams ahead of the crucial home win over Oldham Athletic on Tuesday night but he will be missing from the celebrations if the Exiles confirm their top-seven spot at Morecambe tomorrow.

Franks will also be otherwise engaged should Michael Flynn’s men make the League Two play-off final on May 25 as his first baby is due on the same day.

But the players have not forgotten the 28-year-old and his absence is acting as a major motivating factor ahead of the season finale.

“Obviously, everyone is gutted for Fraser and the talk in the dressing room is that we want to do it for him,” said fellow centre-back Mark O’Brien.

“He was brilliant when he first came in. He got on really well with the group of lads and it’s really unfortunate, but he obviously has to look at the bigger picture.

“Football is a short career and you try to push it to the limit, but if you have specialists and doctors telling you to quit and a baby on the way then you have to think of the bigger picture.”

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O’Brien knows what Franks is going through because he too had heart problems as a youngster.

The Irishman had surgery to correct a valve problem while he was at the Derby County academy in 2009.

“I had open heart surgery when I was 16,” he explained.

“It was different because I was only just starting out and I was football mad so I never looked at the bigger picture.

“But if I was his age and they told me it was either-or, you have to weigh up your options and think about the rest of your life.

“I spoke with him at the training ground and I told him it was one of those things you’d never wish on your worst enemy.

“The rehab is tough. You can’t just hit the ground running.

“You’re basically like a child – you have to start walking again and start building up to jogging and then just living correctly, let alone trying to get back to a professional standard.

“So, taking all of that into account, I feel he’s made the right choice for his life ahead.”

Franks says he is hoping he will be able to cheer on County to glory this month.

“The due date is around the play-off final so it could be an interesting one where I’m allowed to watch the play-off final,” he told the club’s official matchday programme.

“Hopefully she comes a little bit early and I can get to Wembley if the boys get there.

“Looking forward, I feel like I’ll be a Newport fan and my kids will all be Newport fans.

“It’s nice to have a club where I can come back to and feel like home.”

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