Newport County season preview 2015-16: Can they survive?

Terry Butcher
Manager Terry Butcher takes over a much changed squad

It's been a summer of dramatic change at Rodney Parade with virtually every element of the 2013 promotion-winning side dismantled after manager Justin Edinburgh's departure to Gillingham in February.

Just five senior players from last season remain at the club as new boss Terry Butcher opted to overhaul their squad to fit his smaller budget for the new campaign.

The off-field future for the Exiles is also uncertain after chairman Les Scadding stood down over the summer. The supporters' trust remain in talks to take over.

Last Season

County were arguably the surprise package of the season for most of the campaign and came agonisingly close to a play-off place.

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Newport County

After losing their first three league games, the Exiles then went on a terrific run, losing just two of their next 22 matches to force their way into the automatic promotion places at the turn of the year.

Edinburgh's departure had a huge impact and without him at the helm things began to unravel under Jimmy Dack and the goals dried up.

They remained in contention for the play-offs until the final day of the season but struggled to put together enough victories to secure a top seven finish.

They limped over the line with five defeats in their last six games and missed out by six points.

Prospects

Butcher is adamant the off-field situation will not affect their season, but with so many new faces and so little time to gel as a team before the start of the campaign, it will take a huge effort to match last season's exploits.

Fifteen players from last season have gone, 10 new players have come in but the squad still looks like it is short in a few areas.

Transfers
INSOUTS
Rhys Taylor, Scott Barrow (free from Macclesfield), Nathan Ofori-Twumasi, Nathan Ralph (free from Yeovil), Medy Elito (free from VVV Venlo), Danny Holmes (free from Tranmere), Matt Taylor (free from Cheltenham), Lenell John-Lewis (free from Grimsby), Scott Boden (free from Halifax), Alex Rodman (free from Gateshead)Lee Minshull, Max Porter (free to Bromley), Shaun Jeffers (free to Yeovil), Joe Parker (free to Gloucester), Adam Chapman (free to Mansfield), Ismail Yakubu (free to Woking), Kyle Patten (free to Merthyr), Darren Jones (free to Forest Green), Aaron O'Connor (free to Forest Green), Robbie Willmott (free to Ebbsfleet), Andrew Sandell (free to Chippenham), Michael Flynn, Lenny Pidgeley, Chris Zebroski, Jamie Stephens (released)

The manager is keen to add another striker to improve their fire power before the end of the transfer window but his hands could be tied because of the Exiles' reduced playing budget.

Finances have dictated that the bulk of their new signings have come from the division below, whether they're good enough to replace what's been lost remains to be seen.

No one knows quite what to expect from a new group of players and a new manager, both having so much to prove at this level. It is easy to see why so many have tipped them for a year of struggle, but as they remain such an unknown quantity it could easily go the other way. A good start to the campaign could make all the difference.

Lenell John-Lewis
Fans hope striker Lenell John-Lewis will become a household name amongst the supporters

A big season for...

Lenell John-Lewis. He will start the campaign as Newport's main striker and already a terrace favourite. The fans love to sing the 'his name is a shop' chant, but the pressure will be on him to score the goals County need to keep them out of trouble.

Eighteen goals last season, including one in the play-off final defeat to Bristol Rovers at Wembley, he has a proven track record in non-league but can he replicate that at Rodney Parade?

What the bookies think

Title - 50/1

Relegation - 4/1

Manager sacking - not available

Odds supplied by William Hill

Prediction

After so much change over the summer Newport need stability this season. The fans will not want to hear talk of mid-table finishes, but I think if they stay in the Football League they've had a good campaign. A good start is essential.

League Two: 18th. FA Cup: Second round.

Manager's view

Terry Butcher:

"Newport County has done ever so well, in the last three or four years especially."

"There's a fresh, new team coming in. New behind-the-scenes staff coming in. And there could be a new board coming in."

"We'll wait and see but whatever the situation we want to make this club stronger."

Pundit's view

Former Wales striker and BBC Wales pundit Iwan Roberts: "I think every club needs someone who's willing to put their hand in their pocket. Those days are gone now and they have to cut their cloth accordingly.

"They've got an experienced man in the job, I think it's over 500 games he's managed at various levels. If he can reproduce the work he did at Inverness then they've got a chance."

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