WHILE Newport County AFC were winning in Morecambe last weekend, Joe Ledley was doing a cliff-top half marathon in Ogmore. Now the Wales international intends to help the Exiles go the distance in their League Two promotion push.

The 34-year-old has signed for County until the end of the season, a deal that the fifth-placed side hope gives them an edge in an extremely tight race to go up.

Ledley signed on Wednesday after a move to Bristol Rovers collapsed with manager Joey Barton suggesting that the midfielder would lack the sharpness required for their relegation battle.

"My opinion is he needs a pre-season," he said. "He's missed a lot of time, coming out of Australia before the pandemic and at his age you need to be training every day.

"I know from my experience of getting north of 30, it's a different way of training to when you're a young whippersnapper.

"Joe is obviously a talented boy, his CV and career attests to that, but to throw him into a dogfight when he needs a pre-season would be wrong."

Joe Ledley has signed for Newport County until the end of the season. Picture: Newport County AFC.

Joe Ledley has signed for Newport County until the end of the season. Picture: Newport County AFC.

County have no worries about Ledley's sharpness and, international clearance pending, he could make his debut this afternoon.

The Exiles face Leyton Orient and the former Cardiff City, Celtic, Crystal Palace and Derby midfielder could make his return to the field seven days after a very different physical challenge, racking up 13 miles on a coastal run in Ogmore-on-Sea.

"I did it with three mates," said Ledley, who turned down other League Two offers. "It was interesting with great scenery – then a few days later you get a chance to sign for Newport.

"It was a windy one. I was surprised I didn't fall off the cliff but I enjoyed it just to keep myself fit. Any excuse just to get out of the house.

"I don't think fitness will be an issue, it's just getting around bodies and getting used to the ball.

"You manage the body as much as you can and I still have the hunger and want to be winning games."

Ledley – aged 34, squad number 34 courtesy of kitman Neil Leek – is not at a club where he will feel his age.

He joins fellow 30-somethings Joss Labadie (30), Mickey Demetriou (31) Padraig Amond (33), Ryan Taylor (32), Nicky Maynard (34) while 42-year-old Kevin Ellison is in the next bracket up.

South Wales Argus: READY: Joe Ledley says fitness will be no problem with NewportREADY: Joe Ledley says fitness will be no problem with Newport

Ledley said: "That makes me feel younger! Age is just a number at the end of the day, you can go on to your 40s easily, Ryan Giggs did it and a lot of players have continued for a long time.

"I only turned 34 two months ago but I just go out there and enjoy every game like it's my last.

"We will see what happens. I've got until the end of the season and hopefully it will be a successful one.

"I will try and keep playing as long as possible and if this is my final chance then so be it, I've had a great career.

"But if I can help the boys, who have done remarkably so far this season, to promotion then it would be the icing on the cake."

Ledley hasn't played since finishing the season with Newcastle Jets in Australia last summer but could be a key figure in County's run-in.

The international break will provide him with two weeks to get his feet under the table before the run-in that pits the Exiles against promotion rivals Bolton, Carlisle, Cambridge, Crawley, Exeter and Cheltenham.

"The boys who have been here this season have been unbelievable," he said. "They are in a great position with 11 games left. We need to win as many as we can.

"There will some difficult games against teams around us but if we continue the form of the season then hopefully we will fight for promotion.

"It's exciting. This is what you want to be involved in."

The aim is to help County to League One, a feat that would have Ledley considering a repeat of his Euro 2016 moves: “If we get promoted then I'll bring that dance back out!”

If Newport go up then he won’t be the only one doing a celebratory jig.