YOUNGSTER Lewis Collins could play a leading role in Newport County AFC's promotion push after forcing his way back into boss Michael Flynn's plans with training ground graft.

Aaron Collins is set to be a key figure in the League Two run-in for sixth-placed Forest Green Rovers and now his younger brother is playing his part for the seventh-placed Exiles.

The 19-year-old was a starter in the first game of the season when they stunned Swansea City in the Carabao Cup.

Collins won his first Wales Under-21s cap against Belgium in October but his season suffered a setback with an ankle injury on international duty.

The midfielder has had a number of brief cameos since returning but has played a more prominent role in the past two games.

Lewis Collins of Newport County.

Lewis Collins of Newport County.

He was brought on at half-time in the 1-0 win against Bolton and was then tasked with chasing the game in the last half hour against Mansfield.

"With his energy and pace, I fancied him to score," said Flynn after the 1-1 draw at Field Mill. "I was more impressed with the 60-yard run that he did to chase back.

"When players are young and maybe have a point to prove they can sometimes switch off defensively, so that was impressive."

"We were a little bit tentative at times to pull the trigger," continued Flynn. "Don't buy a ticket and you are not going to win the lottery.

"Lewis when he came on was really bright, played it into Jake Scrimshaw and should have just hit it.

"You never know, the keeper could make a mistake or it could go into the top corner. It might go over the stand, but you'll never know unless you try."

Collins is one for the future but also the now after being trusted by the manager ahead of experienced EFL campaigners Kevin Ellison and Luke Gambin recently.

Newport County midfielder Lewis Collins

Newport County midfielder Lewis Collins

"He is keeping other players out of the squad because of the way that he has been training lately. If he hadn't been training well then he would have still been in Newport rather than Mansfield," said Flynn.

"I've been open and honest with him, he hadn't been hitting those levels. I've got so much time for him and want him to do well, so it's down to Lewis now.

"He can play in a few positions – out wide, up front, number 10 – so he is a good attacking option."

County drew at Mansfield on Friday evening after Joss Labadie's late opener was cancelled out by Tyrese Sinclair even later.

They watched the results come in on Saturday and saw Exeter close to within a point with a shock 4-1 hammering of Cambridge.

The Exiles now face a key week in their push for the play-offs, or potentially the top three if they have a sublime run-in.

Second-placed Cambridge head to Rodney Parade on Saturday but on Tuesday night the visitors are Carlisle (kick-off 7pm), with the Cumbrians three points back after being held at neighbours Barrow.

"It's huge. They are one of our rivals. It's going to be a tough game and have to make sure we are at it, if we are then hopefully we will get the three points that we deserve," said Flynn.

County are likely to bring back on-loan striker Nicky Maynard, scorer of the winner against Bolton, after he could not play against his parent club.

"He went to Mansfield and did some work with (sports therapist) Lewis Binns," said Flynn. "He wanted to be around the boys, which was good to see."

Centre-back Priestley Farquharson (ankle) missed out at Field Mill while left wing-back Ryan Haynes (groin) is yet to make a return after being sidelined since the win at Colchester on March 6.