SHANE McLoughlin should whisper it quietly around manager Graham Coughlan, but the Newport County AFC utility man played up front as a youngster.

The Irishman got his chance as a professional with Ipswich as a forward who was comfortable on the wings, handy knowledge should the Exiles suffer injury misfortune up top.

McLoughlin has taken over from Aaron Lewis – who County will go up against in Mansfield this afternoon – as a tidy player who can be relied on in a variety of roles.

The 26-year-old was signed primarily as a right-back or right wing-back but has also slotted in down the left and on Tuesday featured on the right of a defensive three.

South Wales Argus: Shane McLoughlin with Graham CoughlanShane McLoughlin with Graham Coughlan (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“In a back three it’s not dissimilar to right-back and I enjoyed it,” said the former AFC Wimbledon, Morecambe and Salford man.

“It’s another position that perhaps I can learn to play a bit more in the future, let’s see. I’ve played in a few positions this season and I’ve always done that since I was young.

“It helps me understand what teammates in different positions want from me because I know how it feels in their shoes. As players we love challenging ourselves and I definitely enjoy it.”

Graham Coughlan has been grateful for such versatility given County’s injury crisis.

“He tends to give me a little heads-up if he is thinking about it and asks me if I am comfortable,” said McLoughlin.

“I'd like to think we have built up good trust - I trust him with his selection and he has trust in me to put me in different positions.”

County head to Mansfield in high spirits thanks to their win at Gillingham and battling draw with MK Dons, totting up valuable points as they try to get through their injury crisis.

“It’s testament to the lads,” said McLoughlin. “I could tell what a good group this is from the moment I walked in, everyone is honest and hard-working.

“It’s been tough with the injuries but we have stuck together and kept fighting. It’s not been easy but we have tried to keep pushing through it.”

The Exiles will need to show all that resilience if they are to return from the East Midlands with something against a Mansfield side that have won eight and drawn eight in an unbeaten start to League Two.

Portsmouth of League One are the only other club in the 92 yet to register a defeat.

“They have been going well this season and do well at Field Mill. We need to be solid and get through the spells of pressure they will impose on us,” said McLoughlin.

“Then we need to be better in the final third than we have in the last two weeks and take the chances that we create from our counter-press.

“We want to test ourselves and the lads will be raring to go in a good atmosphere. We will give a right go.”