NEWPORT County AFC are hunting a head coach and the new boss will be tasked with getting a tune out of the team that Huw built.

The Exiles’ summer recruitment, led by owner and chairman Jenkins, has been in full swing with eight signings announced so far.

Of the new recruits already putting in the graft in pre-season training, left-back Anthony Glennon is the oldest at 24 and the most experienced in the EFL with just 73 League Two appearances.

Wales Under-21s international Matt Baker is set for the next stage of his career after two loan spells with the Exiles; with 57 appearances he is a seasoned campaigner compared to most of the new boys.

His fellow central defender Ciaran Brennan has the pedigree having come through at Sheffield Wednesday; the 24-year-old has made 11 outings in League One and 17 in League Two.

However, he arrives fresh from a frustrating 2023/24 in which his only senior action was on a short-term loan at Hartlepool, making just four starts in December.

County are rolling the dice and hoping to develop a few gems.

TEAM-BUILDER: Huw Jenkins has led County's recruitment driveTEAM-BUILDER: Huw Jenkins has led County's recruitment drive (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Attacker Oliver Greaves banged in the goals in England’s lower leagues, most recently with Mickleover in Southern League Northern Premier Division while winger Michael Spellman and goalkeeper Jacob Carney had talent to be on the books of Sunderland but that is yet to translate into regular football.

Right-back Joe Thomas and midfielder Kai Whitmore, 23, arrive from Swansea’s academy and Haverfordwest in the Cymru Premier for a first taste of the Football League.

The signings – all on two-year contracts – show that Jenkins has no shortage of confidence in his team-building ability and is putting a big emphasis on resale value.

If players show potential then there will be no repeat of the Cameron Norman situation from 2022, when interest in the right-back was rebuffed only for him to leave on a free the following summer.

Like a property developer on Homes Under the Hammer, Jenkins won’t be averse to a quick flip and he only needs one or two of the signings to come off.

That would provide the funds to reinvest in the club, then do the same all over again, with the appointment of lead coach Nelson Jardim showing that there is a recognition of the need to provide young talent with more expertise and guidance.

MOVE: Stalwart Scot Bennett left County and signed for rivals CheltenhamMOVE: Stalwart Scot Bennett left County and signed for rivals Cheltenham (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

However, there is a nagging fear about the make-up of the County squad – it would be a lot more comfortable if Whitmore was learning the ropes while training and playing alongside Scot Bennett.

The Exiles legend is in line to face his former teammates on the opening weekend of League Two in Cheltenham.

That comes after he was low-balled in contract talks about staying on to add to his 367 Newport appearances.

“The gaffer wanted to keep me, and I wanted to stay, but it wasn’t to be,” said Bennett, speaking before the departure of manager Graham Coughlan.

“When it came down to talking with Huw Jenkins [about the new contract], there was no movement.

“I had no issue with the length of the contract on offer – as lower league players, we’re used to one-year deals – it came down to what they offered me, which I couldn’t accept.”

That is a gamble given that 33-year-old Bennett passed a half-century of appearances in his last campaign with County.

He racked up a total of 367 games for the Exiles and in seven full campaigns (not including his first, when he joined on loan in October, or the Covid-curtailed 2019/20) averaged 45 appearances.

Durable and dependable, Bennett leaves a big hole and Jenkins must hope there isn’t a repeat of the Mickey Demetriou mistake.

The central defender left in similar circumstances last summer and, after being approached by Crawley, eventually signed for Crewe and went on to make * appearances and earn selection for the League Two team of the season.

Bennett went and was followed out of the exit by captain and centre-back Ryan Delaney and midfielder Harry Charsley to League Two rivals Swindon and National League Oldham.

Of those currently on the books, central defender James Clarke and midfielder Aaron Wildig are the only ones in their 30s.

INFLUENTIAL: Shane McLoughlin had a superb first season with CountyINFLUENTIAL: Shane McLoughlin had a superb first season with County (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Just four more players – goalkeeper Nick Townsend, wing-back Shane McLoughlin, midfielder Bryn Morris and striker Luke Jephcott – can be considered established EFL campaigners.

Will Evans can’t really be in that category but the forward, provided he stays, is suddenly thrust into being a talisman and leader after just two years as a professional.

Central defender Kyle Jameson may be 25 and have Tranmere, Oldham and Barrow on his CV but he has played just 64 times in League Two.

An emphasis on youth is exciting and ensuring Newport is a destination for talent that wants to climb the pyramid is commendable.

Yet development relies on having old heads in the squad and many a gnarled manager will stress just how tough the League Two schedule is.

It will be a shock to the system for some of the up-and-comers who have signed up and County cannot afford a repeat of last season, when options were limited because of the crowded treatment room.

It also means that the new head coach could desperately do with hitting the ground running; League Two is not a place to be playing catch-up, especially when trying to develop a new playing style.

These are exciting times in Newport but the age profile of the squad means there is trepidation in the mix.

Jenkins has built the team but, as ever in football, it will be the new boss' head on the block.