GOALKEEPER Tom King insists he’s relishing the battle with Nick Townsend to be the new number one at Newport County AFC.

Long-serving Exiles stopper Joe Day departed for near neighbours Cardiff City last month and King, a summer signing from Millwall, is determined to take his place between the sticks for Michael Flynn’s men.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed a head start in pre-season with Townsend, Day’s deputy last season, still recovering from a bicep injury.

That means King is set to don the gloves for the League Two opener at home to Mansfield Town on August 3, but he’s fully prepared for a fight to claim a regular starting spot.

“Nick’s doing really well,” said King. “He’s training a lot. I’m happy taking the mantle, but I expect a battle. It’s one of the main reasons I came here.

“I know Nick is a very good goalie. I’ve played in teams against him and he’s not only a good goalie, he’s a nice guy as well.

“And the more that we can push that relationship to aid the team and our goals for the season the better.

“Obviously, I’m here to play as many games as possible but there’s no guarantees in football. You’ve got to go out and work as hard as you can every day, which I feel like I’m doing at the moment.

“There’s still a long way to go before the season, not in time but in the way that we’re working.

“But I feel like I’ll be ready on August 3 if called upon and if it is me that takes the mantle then so be it.”

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And King is certain that there will be no hostility, whoever gets the nod against Mansfield.

“Whoever takes the jersey for week one and after that, the other one will be supporting them a million per cent and I can feel that with Nick already,” he said.

“I feel like we’re going to work really well. We have good banter when it’s the right time and we work hard as well.

“Whoever’s playing gets the full support of the other boy, I’m 100 per cent sure of that.”

King is also well aware that he has a tough act to follow as he aims to replace Day, who established himself as one of the best keepers in the fourth tier over the past five years.

“I’ve been told that a few times,” he said with a smile. “It’s lucky I’ve got massive hands and massive feet because all I’ve been told is it’s big gloves and big shoes to fill.

“Joe did unbelievably well here. It was a great run they went on last year in the cup and in the league and I’m only here to take that one step further.

“The guys have welcomed me with open arms,” he added.

“They’re used to a goalie that makes a lot of saves and I’m hoping I can add to that by playing out from the back and pick up where he left off.”

King is likely to start today as County conclude their pre-season preparations with a friendly at Hungerford Town (kick-off 1pm).

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