NEWPORT County AFC’s fit-again seniors are making a difference on and off the pitch, says boss Graham Coughlan.

The Exiles travel to Tranmere tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3pm) with the aim of stretching further away from the League Two relegation scrap.

County, 15th and 10 points clear of the drop zone, are in a healthy position despite being stretched to the limit by an autumn injury crisis.

Their treatment room is emptying after the recent returns of centre-back James Clarke and striker Seb Palmer-Houlden as starters and midfielders Harry Charsley and Aaron Wildig off the bench.

Left-back Adam Lewis, who has been out since the end of September with a quad issue, is also back in training and closing in on a return.

“Over the last five league games it’s one defeat, one draw and three wins. It should have been four wins, so that’s decent form,” said Coughlan.

“We have had a tough time [with injuries] and hopefully we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Getting one or two senior lads back has been a big thing for us, not only on the pitch but off it. They drive standards and push the team.”

Charsley and Wildig are working towards full fitness after appearances off the bench following ankle and back/hamstring injuries respectively.

South Wales Argus: BACK: Aaron Wildig made his return from injury for Newport County against BarnetBACK: Aaron Wildig made his return from injury for Newport County against Barnet (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“They have had a good week on the training ground, some match minutes last Saturday so now it’s a case of building them up as we go.

“We’ve managed to rest up and get lads game time on Tuesday [with an in-house game], we’ve had a really productive week, now we will have to wait to see the end result of our week’s work.”

County travel to face a Tranmere side showing signs of progress under Nigel Adkins, who is now permanent boss.

The former Hull and Southampton manager was initially appointed as technical director in the summer but took over first-team duties in September when Ian Dawes was sacked.

Adkins was nominated for League Two manager of the month for November after guiding the strugglers to two wins and two draws, although Barrow’s Pete Wild won the award.

“He has changed shape a bit and they have a real resilience and character to them now,” said Coughlan about the Merseysiders.

“Tranmere are a good team with some really good players and their fanbase is influential, so we are expecting a really tough test.

“They are well-organised, they get behind the ball and break quickly, so it will be a tough afternoon and they will ask questions of us.

“It will be a real examination and it’s one that I am sure we will relish.”

County have a good record at Prenton Park in recent years.

They won 3-1 in Birkenhead last season thanks to goals by Wildig, Charlie McNeill and Calum Kavanagh.

Alex Fisher earned a 1-0 win in August, 2021 and Fraser Franks secured a success by the same scoreline with an early strike in September 2018.

Tranmere's only triumph in recent Prenton Park clashes was behind closed doors in March, 2021 through a Liam Feeney strike.