DECLAN Drysdale is back on Newport County AFC’s long-term injury list with the central defender sidelined until the New Year.

The 23-year-old has been plagued by injuries since signing on a free transfer from Coventry City in the summer of 2022.

Drysdale missed the start of the campaign with a hamstring problem and, after 11 stop-start appearances, has suffered a relapse.

“It’s a long-term one, there’s no short-term fix,” said manager Graham Coughlan. “You are looking at somewhere between eight and 10 weeks.

“One day a player will go away and get a scan and come back with good news but at this moment in time it’s not happening for us.”

South Wales Argus: INJURED: Declan Drysdale (right) has joined Adam Lewis on the sidelinesINJURED: Declan Drysdale (right) has joined Adam Lewis on the sidelines (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

The blow leaves County down to their last three centre-backs in captain Ryan Delaney, loanee Matt Baker and stalwart Scot Bennett, who has impressed since moving back from midfield in recent weeks.

Experienced defender James Clarke is nearing a return from a groin injury but Coughlan will be reluctant to throw him in and risk a setback.

County look certain to have to switch to a back four because Baker is now going off on Wales Under-21s duty and will miss Tuesday’s EFL Trophy tie against Bristol Rovers and the League Two trip to Mansfield on Saturday.

Bristol City striker Seb Palmer-Houlden is also nearing a return from a hamstring strain but the Exiles’ long-term injury list features defenders Kyle Jameson (hip) and Josh Seberry (broken fibula), left-back Adam Lewis (quad), midfielder Harry Charsley (ankle) and striker Offrande Zanzala (hamstring).

Forward Kiban Rai was also absent for last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with MK Dons and influential midfielder Aaron Wildig was out with a back spasm that is affecting his hamstrings.

It leaves the Exiles down to the bare bones for the Rovers game, when the winners on the night will progress to the knockout stages.

However, goalkeeper Nick Townsend has given them a boost by turning down an international call-up to feature against the Gas and at Field Mill on the weekend.