NEWPORT County AFC goalkeeper Nick Townsend is delighted to have put his injury nightmare behind him and excited by the prospect of a battle for the number one spot with new arrival Tom King.

Both Townsend and King will fancy their chances of replacing Joe Day, who departed for Cardiff City this summer, as the Exiles regular stopper.

Townsend joined from Barnsley 12 months ago and made 10 appearances as Day’s deputy but his first season as a County player was curtailed by a bicep injury that required surgery.

Before his return in last weekend’s friendly win at Hungerford Town, the 24-year-old hadn’t played since February 2 and hadn’t featured in a match day squad since March 15.

Townsend was forced to watch from the sidelines as his teammates went on a 12-game unbeaten run, which only ended with defeat in the play-off final at Wembley.

“I’m buzzing to be back,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.

“I ripped my bicep – half in training and the other half before a match.

“It wasn’t painful. I just got on with it. I had the surgery within a week and it’s been a good recovery.

“It was a bit of a hard one to take – missing the play-offs.

“But the club have made me feel involved in everything and they’ve been great with me in helping me get back to fitness.

“It was good to be back out there,” he added. “It was a bit of a shock at first but it’s just like riding a bicycle – you’ve just got to get back into the rhythm of it.

“And I’ve got to get used to how all the new boys play as well.”

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Fellow keeper King (above, right) is one of 10 summer signings so far and Townsend is relishing the competition provided by the former Millwall man.

“Kingy has come in and it’s been really competitive between us both,” he said.

“It’s going to be a battle between us and I think that’s good for both of us.

“It’s important to have competition. We can make each other better and it will be good for us and for the club.

“He’s a hard worker in training – you can tell he’s been brought up right with everything he does and it will be a good competition.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s close between us and it will come down to who’s performing best.”

King is the man in possession of the shirt after a good pre-season showing and he’s likely to get the nod to start Saturday’s League Two opener at home to Mansfield Town.

But Townsend admits that both he and King have a tough act to follow.

“I took a lot from Joe,” he said. “I haven’t got his height so I have to adapt in other ways, but he’s a top lad and I learned a lot from everything he did around the club.

“Even when we saw him the other day [in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Cardiff], he was still being helpful to us.

“They are massive gloves to fill but the new lads that have come in have slotted in perfectly and I think it’ll be a good year for us.”

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