SCOT Bennett is pounding the pavements of Newport to stay sharp for the start of next season with the intention of another campaign in the Football League, but admits he might be forced into another job to pay the bills after his shock County exit.

The 29-year-old utility man had been a valuable member of the Exiles side since October, 2015 when he arrived on loan from Notts County.

He racked up 154 appearances for County and, after featuring in the heart of defence, central midfield and even right-back, looked set to commit for a sixth campaign in Wales.

Then came the coronavirus crisis that has left an estimated 1,400 players in the Football League without clubs, anxiously waiting and hoping for recruitment to start up for 2020/21.

Newport wanted Bennett and Bennett wanted Newport, but the cost-cutting Exiles said a deal was not possible.

South Wales Argus:

"It was around January when I spoke to Flynny (manager Michael Flynn) and he wanted to offer me a contract but we just didn't get round to it," reflected the Cornishman, who has also had to postpone his wedding until next year because of the pandemic.

"We weren't expecting this pandemic to strike but even when we were in lockdown he was speaking to me regularly and saying that he wanted to keep me, that he was just trying to sort something with the board.

"Eventually I spoke to him and he said that he'd never been in this position of wanting to keep a player but being unsure he was able to, then later that afternoon the chairman (Gavin Foxall) rang.

"He thanked me for everything that I'd done for the club but said they were not in a position to offer a contract.

"There was a slight bit of hope when speaking to Flynny but it was a different story when speaking to the chairman.

"It's hit a few clubs hard and things have sunk in now after the shock and surprise. It's hard to take but I've got to move on, although it's tough because we don't know what is around the corner and when football will return."

South Wales Argus:

Bennett, who started his career at League Two rivals Exeter City, has made Newport home and is hopeful that his exploits as an Exile will attract interest in late summer.

"I'm still doing all my fitness," said Bennett, who played 37 times last season. "I'm running, getting my miles in on long runs and doing short runs on pitches as much as I can, I'm doing bike rides and trying to stay as fit and sharp as possible.

"A lot of clubs will be waiting until the EFL come out with a start date for the new season and then they will wait until that's close before they start trying to make any signings.

"I had a good season so hopefully that will work in my favour. I have played a lot of games in the Football League, so I am hoping that will help me when my name starts getting around."

"I'm still only 29 so feel that I have got a good few years left in me yet. The plan is to stay in the Football League but if nothing comes up and a team in the National League or lower comes up with an offer to keep me going then I'd have to think about it."

South Wales Argus:

Bennett has been a professional footballer since 17 and is currently doing his UEFA B Licence coaching badges.

But the reality for all 1,400 individuals that are out of contract, including another County favourite in Jamille Matt, is that being a full-time sportsman may not be possible.

"I've got a family, so it's a tough situation," admitted Bennett. "You don't know whether to hold out and wait for what comes or whether to just see what other work is out there to try and keep ticking over.

"I will consider anything. My agent will get my name out there and I hope that something will come up but the end of July is my last pay day and if there's nothing by then I will have to look for something else, at least until it (football recruitment) all kicks off again."

A deal was in the pipeline at the start of the year but Bennett is not bitter that coronavirus denied him the chance to work towards 200 Exiles appearances.

South Wales Argus:

"I only look back at my time with positives," he said. "The club welcomed me and my family from the start.

"I have had some of my best moments in football with Newport – I played at Wembley twice, which was a childhood dream, the Great Escape will live with me forever and then there we the chances to play against big teams like Tottenham and Man City.

"When you are playing in the lower leagues and get the chance against clubs like that, ones that you grew up watching on telly, it's incredible.

"When I first came to Newport we were struggling but we stayed up on the last day and managed to kick on from there.

"I can only look back with pride and joy and it will stay that way no matter how it all ended."