DEFENDER Harrison Bright is playing for his Newport County AFC future in the League Two run-in ahead of summer talks with boss Graham Coughlan.

The 20-year-old from Blaenavon has had to be patient since breaking into the senior squad at Rodney Parade.

He made his first Exiles appearance against Norwich Under-21s in the EFL Trophy in 2020 under Michael Flynn and then got a first League Two outing in the final game of 2021/22 under James Rowberry, playing the final half hour against Rochdale.

Bright was given a long-awaited first EFL start by manager Coughlan in the 1-0 defeat at Barrow last weekend.

With defenders Ryan Delaney, James Clarke, Josh Seberry and Shane McLoughlin on the injured list and Declan Drysdale being nursed back in his comeback, more opportunities could come the Gwent youngster’s way in the seven remaining games of the regular season.

Bright knows that he needs to grasp them if he is to earn another contract after signing a one-year extension last summer.

South Wales Argus: CHANCE: Harrison Bright grapples with Cole Stockton in Newport County's clash with BarrowCHANCE: Harrison Bright grapples with Cole Stockton in Newport County's clash with Barrow (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“I have spoken to the gaffer and we are leaving it to the end of the season but I've got to prove myself,” he said ahead of the Good Friday trip to Colchester.

“I'd like to get a new contract so have to keep playing well and then have discussions in the summer, because the gaffer has been good to me.”

Bright had a loan spell at Pontypridd United last season and returned to the Cymru Premier for the first half of the current campaign with Barry Town United.

He came back to County in January and has been an unused substitute six times, came off the bench against Harrogate and Mansfield before playing the full 90 at Barrow.

“I've had to wait for my chance,” said Bright. “In January I didn’t get game time and was just training with a couple of in-house games.

“It was the same in February but luckily the games have started coming for me in March.”

Bright can play right-back, wing-back or centrally in a three – and hopes versatility helps him get action.

“I don’t mind where I play,” he said. “I will be happy wherever the manager picks me as long as I am on the pitch.

“I just want to make as many appearances and get as many minutes under my belt as possible because it's all good experience.”

South Wales Argus: County prospect Harrison BrightCounty prospect Harrison Bright (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

County play away at Colchester on Good Friday, host Crawley on Monday and then face Grimsby, Accrington, Tranmere, Salford and Bradford.

Bright hopes to show the progress he has made thanks to his time at Barry and on the training pitch.

“It was enjoyable playing week in, week out and the Cymru Premier is a good level,” he said.

“I was training with Newport on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Barry on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The sports scientists made sure I wasn't over-training and it was enjoyable.

“At Barry I think I improved my positioning and one v one defending, while I added to my game going forward with a couple of goals and assists while out on loan.”

“You are always learning and I speak to the manager, then then at centre-half I've got players like Ryan Delaney, James Clarke, Scot Bennett and at right wing-back I've got Shane McLoughlin. They are all good to me.”

Assistant manager Joe Dunne, a former defender, talked Bright through his performance at Barrow and hopes the youngster can keep making progress.

“You are nothing without opportunity and when given one you have to do the best that you can,” said Dunne.

“You are not going to get everything right but had a decent game at Barrow with aspects that he needs to work on.

“Harrison needs to build on that performance now and we do know that he can be trusted to be put in.

“Those on the periphery need to pay attention and be ready. When the chance comes, do the basics well and then hopefully good things can come.”