DEFENDER Priestley Farqharson can go from fringe figure to key man next season, believes Newport County AFC manager James Rowberry.

The 25-year-old will be fit for the start of pre-season after a knee operation brought an early end to his 2021/22 campaign.

Farquharson made an impressive start to life at Rodney Parade after being signed from Connah’s Quay Nomads by previous boss Michael Flynn in January 2021.

The imposing central defender, who also fitted in at right back to add physical presence, made 16 appearances and came off the bench in the Wembley defeat to Morecambe in the League Two play-off final.

Farquharson made nine more outings at the start of last season but then suffered injury misfortune.

South Wales Argus: Fit-again County defender Priestley FarquharsonFit-again County defender Priestley Farquharson

The England beach soccer international picked up a knee injury in a development fixture in September, returned in January but then had his season ended in February.

Rowberry, who took over in mid-October, gave him just two cameos when coping with aerial bombardments at Walsall and Leyton Orient.

However, the boss believes Farquharson can force his way into the XI when battling with new recruit Declan Drysdale, talisman Mickey Demetriou and James Clarke.

“Priestley has the ability to be one of our main men,” said Rowberry. “No different to any other player, he will have an opportunity to force his way into the team.

“He is getting himself fit for the start of pre-season and his progression has been brilliant. I am really, really pleased with how he is working and what he is doing.

“His attitude, application and focus has been terrific, he has real drive.

“Pre-season with us will really benefit him and myself, Carl [Serrant, assistant manager] and Jarred [Harvey, first team coach] will be able to work closely with him individually.

“There is no doubt that Priestley has the physical attributes and stature, it’s down to us to help develop him with the technical and tactical aspects of the game.”

County return for pre-season testing next week and get their League Two campaign under way on Saturday, July 30.

The EFL fixtures are announced at 9am next Thursday with the EFL Trophy and Carabao Cup draws also made later in the day.