WHEN Kyle Howkins woke up in hospital six weeks ago, his first words were “did we win?” and now he’s determined to help Newport County AFC get back on track in League Two.

The centre-back suffered a fractured skull in the FA Cup win at Maldon & Tiptree on November 29 and many at the club feared that his season could be over, or worse.

But, after recovering from the horror injury and completing his concussion protocol, Howkins finally returned to action as a substitute in Tuesday’s Leasing.com Trophy victory over MK Dons.

The 23-year-old is delighted to be back out on the pitch and he admits that he was fortunate not to suffer more serious consequences from the aerial challenge with Maldon's Charlee Hughes.

“It’s been six weeks now so it was great to get back out there,” said Howkins after his midweek cameo.

“The injury could have been a lot worse and it’s been quite a quick turnaround, to be fair.

“I had quite a shiner but the doctor said it could have been a lot worse so I’m quite lucky.

“I remember everything [leading up to it],” he added. “I remember having the fit on the floor and that was it. They put the mask on me and I was knocked out.

“I woke up the next morning in hospital and all the family was there, which was nice to see.

“There were a lot of pipes hanging out of me and the family said the first thing I said when I woke up was ‘did we win?’ and thankfully the boys did.”

The incident was scary for Howkins’ family who were watching it all unfold live on the BBC and they quickly dashed down from the Midlands to be at his bedside in Essex.

“My family were watching on TV back in Birmingham and they didn’t know how bad it was,” he recalled.

“They went straight down to the hospital after the game and got there at about 4am.

“I was in for three days, one in Essex and then two in Cambridge with a fractured skull and then concussion.”

Howkins posted a picture on Twitter from his hospital bed the day after the match and he’s been overwhelmed with the support he’s had from the County fans.

“They’ve been very supportive – I’ve had lots of messages on Twitter and Facebook,” said the former West Bromwich Albion defender.

“And it was nice to hear the cheer from the fans when I came on [on Tuesday].

“I felt fine being back out there. I’ve got to get my fitness back now because I’ve only trained a few times.

“I need to knuckle down and get my sharpness back because there’s massive competition [for places] we’re all back fit now [in central defence] so it’s a challenge.

“We all know that we have to fight for the shirt and fight to keep it.”

Having played a part in the Exiles’ excellent start to the season, Howkins is convinced that he can help the team end a 10-game winless streak in League Two and get them climbing the table again.

“We haven’t been on a good run recently but we’re hoping that we can push on again,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Scunthorpe United.

“We had a great start to the season and hopefully we can kick on again and get a few more wins and clean sheets and score a few goals.

“We showed at the start of the season how good we are before this dip in form.

“I think it was the same last year as well and they managed to get into the play-offs, so hopefully we can do the same this year.”

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