MANAGER Graham Coughlan fears what sort of a Newport County AFC line-up he will be able to field against Bristol Rovers tomorrow – but he has pledged his team will “run their socks off”.

The Exiles entertain the League One club in a winner-takes-all EFL Trophy tie (kick-off 7.45pm) for a place in the knockout stages.

County would normally rotate their side for the competition but Coughlan’s options are severely limited due to injuries.

The boss was only able to name a five-man bench for Saturday’s battling 0-0 draw with MK Dons and that featured novice teenage loanee Olly Thomas and academy youngsters Alfie Young and Nelson Sanca alongside midfield James Waite and goalkeeper Jonny Maxted.

County were without ten outfield players – Josh Seberry, James Clarke, Declan Drysdale, Kyle Jameson, Adam Lewis, Aaron Wildig, Harry Charsley, Kiban Rai, Seb Palmer-Houlden and Offrande Zanzala.

Now they are also without defender/midfielder Matt Baker, who is on Wales Under-21s duty and will also miss Saturday’s League Two trip to Mansfield.

County will fulfils the fixture even if they have to reluctantly use under-18s from the academy.

South Wales Argus: Captain Ryan Delaney applauds the County fans after the 0-0 draw with MK DonsCaptain Ryan Delaney applauds the County fans after the 0-0 draw with MK Dons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I am going to try and register myself, [coaches] David Pipe, Mark O'Brien, Jim Hollman! I have 12 players as it stands, 13 with the goalkeeper,” said former centre-back Coughlan.

“Fighting on all fronts is tough but I just don't know what I can get out there on Tuesday night.

“One thing I do know, they will represent the club with pride, give 110 per cent and run their socks off. If that's not good enough, so be it.

“The lads will give their all, that’s one thing I can guarantee but I can't guarantee who is fit and ready to go on Tuesday.

“Matty Baker is going away on international duty and it’s no exaggeration to say we might not be able to field a team, but we will do our best, roll our sleeves up and give our all.”

So far this season Coughlan has brought academy prospects Harrison Page, Corey Evans, Fraser Needham, Young and Sanca onto his bench for League Two encounters.

None are yet to make their senior debuts and the manager is wary of giving the teenage prospects a damaging experience.

South Wales Argus: PROSPECT: Nelson Sanca before County's game with MK DonsPROSPECT: Nelson Sanca before County's game with MK Dons (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I don’t think they are ready to go on the pitch,” said Coughlan, who was an academy coach at Sheffield United before heading to Rodney Parade.

“You can throw some young lads onto the pitch but they have to be able to handle themselves. I just have a fear that some of them are too far off it.

“I would like to be able to dip into the academy system like other clubs but I don't want to give them a bad experience that scars them or ruins them. We've got to be careful with what we do with the kids.”

West Ham Under-21s have already claimed group top spot so the winners in Newport will earn an away tie in the last 32.

If the scores are level after 90 minutes then there will be a penalty shootout to decide who progresses.