GRAHAM Coughlan has promised a summer of change at Newport County AFC after questioning whether the squad share his pain at seven straight defeats in League Two.

The Exiles suffered a 1-0 loss to Salford City at Rodney Parade when striker Matt Smith slammed in a rebound in added time.

County, stretched by injury, have gone from being on the fringes of the play-offs in mid-March to 17th in the table.

“We weren’t good enough all afternoon,” said manager Coughlan. “We had a couple of good chances in the first half but there is a trend, we can go to 60 minutes but then don’t have the legs or the energy.

“The lads that have stepped into the team for those that are injured are just not able to cope at this level.

“You can only solve that with change. We need a different approach, a new mentality, fresh players.

“A number of those players have obviously gone as far as they can. There is no doubting their work rate and attitude – they are trying – but we lack quality and a bit of nous.

“Our quality levels need to be better and so does our desire and hunger, but we will address that and it will be a tough and hard-working summer for us because we need to freshen the place up.”

County have had to lean heavily on a core of players – Bryn Morris, Scot Bennett and Will Evans plus Shane McLoughlin and Ryan Delaney before they were sidelined – after two injury crises this season.

South Wales Argus: WOE: County's squad thank the fans after their final Rodney Parade game of the campaignWOE: County's squad thank the fans after their final Rodney Parade game of the campaign (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“There were lots of mistakes and sloppiness. That’s players who are tired and fatigued who are not concentrating and have just lost their way,” said Coughlan.

“It’s sad looking at us and it’s an unfair reflection of us, but the lads have to show more hunger and desire.

“They need to be better but there are one or two of them that obviously can’t handle a bit of criticism and go missing.

“There is lots of work to be done and if this club wants to push on and break the top-seven next season then there needs to be a lot of fresh faces brought in.”

County finish their season with a trip to Valley Parade to face a Bradford City side who could be in the mix for the play-offs if they win at Barrow on Tuesday.

If the Exiles fail to cause an upset in Yorkshire then they will match the eight-game losing streak under Graham Westley in the Great Escape season of 2016/17.

“I’ve just got to bite down on my gumshield and suffer,” said Coughlan. “I don’t know whether one or two players take their jobs seriously enough because football is a precious game.

“When you don’t win it hurts, and my question to a number of players in there is does it hurt you as badly as it hurts me and the fans?

“I’m not daft, they won’t be able to pull the wool over my eyes because I am an experienced manager with nearly 1,500 games under my belt.

“I’ve not seen a group of lads fall apart the way we have. We lack leadership on the pitch, there are no generals or anybody to organise them, we don’t speak and we can’t string passes together.

“The injuries have killed us, so have the 57 games we will have played this season and we are trying to get game time into some young lads, which is just not working for us either. Anything we are doing is just going against us.”