NEWPORT County have received a major boost ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy semi-final second leg with the news that defender Andrew Hughes has signed a new contract.

The talented teenager, who has been a target for several Football League clubs after a hugely impressive first full season, has agreed a two-year deal.

That means Hughes is tied to the club until at least the end of the 2013/14 season and significantly strengthens County’s position should a big offer come in for the youngster.

Director of football Tim Harris, the man who gave Hughes his debut in a 1-1 draw against Luton just over a year ago, is pleased that the 19-year-old has committed his future to the Exiles.

“He’s a very level-headed young lad who has grown a lot in stature this season and we are delighted to have secured him for the next two years,” said Harris.

“I gave him his debut against Luton and he was superb (winning the man of the match award) but he’s developed a lot since then.

“He’s done very well and is maturing all the time,” he added.

“People will always be looking at young talent, especially at the level we’ve got to but this gives us a bit of security and I’ve no doubt he can be a big player for us.”

Hughes was enjoying a day out at the Cheltenham Festival with his County teammates yesterday as the squad took a break from the hectic build-up to Saturday’s crunch tie at Wealdstone.

Justin Edinburgh’s side lead 3-1 after the first leg at Spytty Park thanks to goals from Elliott Buchanan, Nat Jarvis and substitute Darryl Knights.

The club have been given a further allocation of tickets for the match at Wealdstone’s St George’s Stadium ground.

Tickets are still available from the office at Newport Stadium between 10am and 2.30pm or on 01633 662262.

Recorded delivery postage will be charged at £2.50 and the ticket prices are £15 for adults, £10 concessions and £5 for under-16s.

The office and shop will be closed all day today.

On a more sombre note, two former County players have died in the past week.

George Beattie, who was 86, signed for the Ironsides for a fee of £2,000 from Gloucester City in September 1950 and was sold on to Bradford Park Avenue for £3,000 three years later.

A regular centre or inside forward, he returned to the area after retiring to run a successful coal business. His son Alex later played for Newport AFC.

Aldwyn Waite of Ynysddu, who was 83, joined the club as an amateur before turning professional in December 1951.

An attacking wing-half, he left to join Llanelly in 1954 and went on to play for Abergavenny Thursdays and several other Welsh League clubs before retiring in 1964 to run his own plumbing business.