NEWPORT County AFC have been given a double fitness boost ahead of a key week against promotion rivals.

The Exiles were meant to travel to Port Vale on Saturday afternoon but an early call was made to postpone the League Two fixture because of a frozen pitch.

Manager Michael Flynn was relieved that the decision saved them a wasted journey to Staffordshire, and also avoided a repeat of their midweek outing against Southend.

They lost 1-0 to the struggling Shrimpers at a perishing Rodney Parade in a game that would probably have been postponed if it had kicked off later than 7pm, with the rock-hard ground causing issues in the second half.

County have now started preparations for home clashes, weather permitting, against seventh-placed Exeter City on Tuesday and second-placed Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

"I'd rather go up to Port Vale when the pitch is playable than play on an ice rink like we did the other night,” said Flynn. “It means that we can have a good session today, which will be 11 against 11.”

South Wales Argus: SUSPENDED: Liam ShephardSUSPENDED: Liam Shephard

County will now be without wing-back Liam Shephard for the Exeter fixture as he still has a game left on his three-match suspension for a red card at Harrogate.

However, the Exiles will have defender/midfielder Matty Dolan and veteran forward Kevin Ellison in the mix for selection against the Grecians.

Dolan limped off in the first half of the loss against Southend after suffering a muscle strain but he would have been available to face Port Vale.

Ellison, 42 this month, hasn’t featured since pulling up while blocking a cross against Salford in mid-January.

The duo are in training along with the sizeable contingent of January arrivals, allowing the coaching team to continue with the introduction to the County way.

The likes of Luke Gambin, Dom Telford, Nicky Maynard, Anthony Hartigan, Aaron Lewis and Jack Evans had not been enjoying regular starts before heading for Newport.

“We can get them up to speed a little bit,” admitted Flynn. “It's a time to have a look at them and get some fitness into the legs of those who need it. You have to take positives out of it.”

Scot Bennett is suspended for the fixtures against Exeter and Forest Green after his dismissal against Grimsby last weekend.

Exiles stalwart Robbie Willmott made a deadline day move to Exeter on loan but the versatile midfielder will not be able to play in the midweek fixture.