FORMER Newport County striker Phil Walsh is heading for the Football League and he’s convinced that the Exiles won’t be far behind him.

The 25-year-old is set to join League Two outfit Dagenham & Redbridge once the January transfer window opens and, after facing his old club on Monday, he believes that Dean Holdsworth’s men are certainties to be promoted – and could even prosper in the Blue Square Premier next season.

County ran out 3-0 winners against Dorchester Town to move 13 points clear at the top of the Blue Square South.

Walsh played in central defence for the Magpies alongside Ashley Vickers, another former Exile, and he was impressed with how much things have changed at Spytty Park since his brief stay at the beginning of last season.

“A lot has happened to Newport and to me since I left the club,” said Walsh.

“Dean has brought in some fantastic players and has worked wonders to turn things round.

“I’m really pleased for him and for everyone at the club because Newport County is a big club with a fantastic passionate fanbase and they deserve success,” he added.

“They are a fantastic side and, although they won’t say it themselves, I think they’ve got the league in the bag already.

“And with the players they’ve got they will be a threat in the division above as well. I just hope they can hang on to everyone and have a real good go at it next season as well.”

Walsh was among Holdsworth’s first signings for County in the summer of 2008, joining from Bath City, and made nine appearances.

His one goal came in a 5-4 Setanta Shield win at Dorchester before he was loaned out to Tiverton Town and then moved on to the Magpies once Vickers became part of the management team at the Jewson Stadium.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Dorchester but I jumped at the chance of a trial at Dagenham and I scored two goals against Colchester reserves,” said Walsh.

“Playing in defence has helped make me a better striker and I’m delighted with the move,” he added. “Dean and the Newport lads wished me all the best and assuming it all goes through in the next few days I’m just going to go there and give it my best. It’s the chance of a lifetime and I aim to grab it with both hands.”