DEFENDER Matt Baker will miss Newport County AFC’s League Two trip to Barrow because of an international appointment at Rodney Parade.

Baker, on loan from Stoke City, has been named in the Wales Under-21s squad for the 2025 UEFA EURO Under-21 qualifier against Lithuania and friendly against Morocco.

Lewis Koumas, the 18-year-old son of Jason who scored for Liverpool on his debut against Southampton in the FA Cup is an eye-catching inclusion in the squad for the qualifier in Newport on Friday, March 22 (kick-off 6pm) and trip to Antalya in Turkey to face the Olympic Games-bound Morocco Under-23s.

However, the Exiles will be more concerned by the call-up for Baker, 21, that leaves them low on numbers at the back.

County are already without captain Ryan Delaney and his fellow experienced centre-back James Clarke for the rest of the season because of knee injuries.

That has led to Scot Bennett moving back to the heart of the defence with Baker, who has made 31 appearances in his second loan spell in Newport, on his right and Kyle Jameson on his left.

South Wales Argus: RETURN: County defender Declan Drysdale is working his way back to full fitnessRETURN: County defender Declan Drysdale is working his way back to full fitness (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

They are currently backed up by Declan Drysdale but he is short of match fitness after coming back from an injury suffered in November.

The 24-year-old Merseysider came on for the last half hour against Mansfield and final quarter of an hour versus Stockport and Morecambe.

County travel to seventh-placed AFC Wimbledon this weekend and then make the long trip to Cumbria to face sixth-placed Barrow.

Provided all defenders come through unscathed against the Dons, manager Graham Coughlan will have to give a first start to Drysdale since the autumn or field a back four at Holker Street.

The cover would likely be 19-year-old Harrison Bright, who is a right-back by trade but has slotted into a three in the past, and untested academy prospect Nelson Sanca.

Newport’s Luca Hoole, a defender with Bristol Rovers, returns to the Wales squad after missing out through injury last time.

Koumas is joined in the squad by two other uncapped players, fellow Liverpool prospect Terence Miles and West Brom defender Alex Williams.

Wales are second in Group I behind Denmark after taking eight points from their opening five games of the qualifying campaign.

Jones’ side travel to Iceland in September and finish at home to the Czech Republic in October with the group runners-up going into the play-offs.

Wales U21: Ed Beach (Gateshead - on loan from Chelsea), Evan Watts (Swansea City), Matt Baker (Newport County - on loan from Stoke City), Terence Miles (Liverpool), Luca Hoole (Bristol Rovers), Jay Williams (Sutton United), Zac Ashworth (Bolton Wanderers - on loan from West Bromwich Albion), Owen Beck (Dundee - on loan from Liverpool), Tom Davies (Kilmarnock - on loan from Cardiff City), Fin Stevens (Oxford United - on loan from Brentford), Alex Williams (West Bromwich Albion), Eli King (Ross County - on loan from Cardiff City), Joel Cotterill (Swansea City), Joel Colwill (Cardiff City), Charlie Crew (Leeds United), Oli Hammond (Oldham Athletic), Ben Lloyd (Swansea City), Oliver Ewing (Leicester City), Luke Harris (Exeter City - on loan from Fulham), Chris Popov (Leicester City), Pat Jones (Huddersfield Town), Lewis Koumas (Liverpool), Cian Ashford (Cardiff City)