GRAHAM Coughlan has warned his Newport County AFC players that they need to grasp their League Two opportunities before the physio room empties.

The Exiles host leaders Stockport this afternoon and are still stretched by injury despite some welcome returns.

Centre-back James Clarke and striker Seb Palmer-Houlden are working towards full fitness after both coming off the bench in the last two games.

Defender/midfielder Matt Baker is back from Wales Under-21s duty while forward Kiban Rai is in contention after missing three fixtures.

County haven’t been able to name an 18-man squad in the league since Notts County on November 24 but that could soon change, with midfielder Harry Charsley also getting close to a return after an ankle injury.

The injury issues have led to the likes of Matty Bondswell, Lewis Payne, James Waite and Nathan Wood getting opportunities.

South Wales Argus: OPPORTUNITY: County defender Lewis PayneOPPORTUNITY: County defender Lewis Payne (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“The chances that are given are there to be taken,” said manager Coughlan.

“If you can’t take them to nail down a consistent berth in the team then don’t come knocking on my door or whingeing if not in the team in January when we can get players in or when others are fit.

“The ball has been in the players’ court, they have the opportunity to stay in the team and nail down a place.

“I am asking them to step up to the plate because one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune. One or two have, one or two haven’t.”

County’s injury list features centre-backs Kyle Jameson (hip), Declan Drysdale (hamstring) and Josh Seberry (broken leg), left-back Adam Lewis (quad), midfielders Charsley (ankle) and Aaron Wildig (back/hamstring) plus striker Offrande Zanzala (knee).

Top scorer Will Evans needs to avoid a booking this afternoon to ensure he is available at Morecambe on Tuesday.

The forward has been cautioned four times and today’s 19th game of the league campaign is a cut-off point for the one-game ban for hitting five.

The threshold then goes to a two-game suspension for hitting 10, with a cut-off point of 37 fixtures.