STRIKER Stuart Douglas is savouring every moment of Newport County’s promotion push after undergoing career-saving surgery last summer.

The former Luton Town man, on loan at Spytty Park from Blue Square South rivals Bath City, scored his first goal for the Exiles in Tuesday’s 5-1 win at Basingstoke and he’s delighted to be part of a magical season for the club.

But it could all have been so different for Douglas who had to choose between the surgeon’s knife and retirement.

The 31-year-old has always been a pain in the neck for defenders but when prolapsed discs in his spine left him in serious pain and unable to play during pre-season he knew he had a big decision to make.

“I went for an MRI scan and was told that the only way I could play on was to have the operation and have titanium plates in my neck,” Douglas explained.

“My main concern was that I’d still be able to play football in the park with my six-month old son Marley and thankfully I’m fine now.”

After four months out Douglas found it difficult to regain his place in the Bath starting XI and jumped at the chance to join Dean Holdsworth’s champions elect last month.

“I’m very grateful to (Bath boss) Adie Britton and Dean Holdsworth for giving me the opportunity,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to be a part of a team like this. We’re just riding the crest of a wave at the moment and going into games we feel like the only team who can beat us is ourselves.

“It was a no-brainer of a decision really and I’m hoping both parties will be happy to extend the loan when the initial five weeks are up.”

A lot has changed in the 12-months since a rampant Douglas helped himself to a hat-trick at Spytty last March as Bath beat County 4-0 – still their last home defeat in the league.

The imposing front man, who is a fully qualified physiotherapist, is looking forward to facing former club Weymouth this weekend and has special praise for the way the County faithful have welcomed him to the club.

“The Newport fans are great,” he said. “I can remember last year’s game and they gave me a bit of stick when I went down for the penalty but when I came off they applauded me.

“That’s very rare and it just shows that they appreciate their football. It’s a pleasure to play for them.

“Craig Reid and Sam Foley have been amazing this year so I know I’m not going to play every game but it was great to get off the mark the other day and hopefully there’s many more to come.”

Exiles boss Holdsworth was named Blue Square South manager of the month for February yesterday.