FINISHER Luke Jephcott can become Newport County AFC’s next 20-goal striker, believes boss Graham Coughlan.

The 24-year-old joined the Exiles in January after being a fringe figure in the Scottish Premiership with St Johnstone.

Jephcott has a track record of 37 goals in 118 appearances for Plymouth – including 18 in the 2020/21 League One campaign – but is yet to get off the mark for his new club.

However, the former Wales Under-21s striker is being gradually worked to full sharpness and eight of his nine appearances have been off the bench.

Jephcott has totted up a total of 194 minutes for his new club, with a total of three shots, and is playing his part in County’s push for the play-offs along with fellow forwards Will Evans, Seb Palmer-Houlden and Offrande Zanzala.

South Wales Argus: FINISHER: Newport County forward Luke JephcottFINISHER: Newport County forward Luke Jephcott (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Luke had a tough time, he was up in Scotland and wasn’t part of their group,” said Coughlan. “He didn’t have any reserve games and was training on his own.

“He was isolated for whatever reason and that’s what we inherited – he lacked sharpness and fitness. We are chipping away at that but it won’t come overnight.

“He has been brilliant and it’s the first time that we can put two on, two off to freshen things up with options at that end of the park.

“Luke got a brilliant goal at Bristol Rovers [in a friendly behind closed doors] when he got 90 minutes under his belt.

“Even in that game he went to around 75 minutes and we were wondering if we should take him off, we had a conversation but felt we had to push him through.”

Evans has passed 20 goals to match the exploits of League Two golden boot winner Dom Telford in 2021/22.

Coughlan believes County’s style will be a good fit for Jephcott, who has shown there is more to his game than goals with strong hold-up play and a good work rate.

South Wales Argus: TEAM: Luke Jephcott (right), Seb Palmer-Houlden (left), Will Evans and Offrande Zanzala have been sharing the load up frontTEAM: Luke Jephcott (right), Seb Palmer-Houlden (left), Will Evans and Offrande Zanzala have been sharing the load up front (Image: PA)

“He gives us a great platform but we judge strikers on goals. He is a goalscorer and I felt that we were missing some chances,” said Coughlan.

“We do create a lot, we don’t always convert. Give Luke a chance and he will take it – history tells you that.

“He is a proven goalscorer, and not just at this level but in League One. I am looking forward to getting him up to speed, and I hope that I can get something out of him this season.”

“He liked the idea of working with me and Joe [Dunne, assistant], who have a track record of getting 20 goals out of strikers each season, although Omar Bogle only got 19 last season,” continued Coughlan, who notably worked with Jonson Clarke-Harris at Bristol Rovers.

“We do create chances as a coaching team and want to play on the front foot with two strikers, and Luke liked that thought process.

“I think it’s a good match with me and Joe working with Luke because we do create chances and he will finish them.”

County travel to sixth-placed Barrow on Saturday with the aim of staying within striking distance of the top seven.

The Exiles then head to Colchester on Good Friday before four of their remaining six games are at Rodney Parade.