Warren Feeney: Newport County face battle to keep key players

By Mark PoyserBBC Wales football reporter
Mark Byrne
Captain Mark Byrne has scored three goals for Newport County this season

Manager Warren Feeney admits Newport County may not be able to keep their key players at the club this summer.

Feeney is keen to start shaping his squad after they secured their League Two safety with a 1-1 draw at Luton.

County currently have just three players under contract for next season and Feeney knows there will be interest in players like captain Mark Byrne.

"That's what happens with one-year contracts at clubs like us," Feeney said.

"At the end of the day, you just hope they've enjoyed it here. Whoever decides to stay, I want to build around it."

Byrne was linked with a move to League One Gillingham, managed by former County boss Justin Edinburgh, in January while defender Andrew Hughes is also thought to have attracted interest from clubs higher up the Football League pyramid.

Goalkeeper Joe Day and strikers Lenell John-Lewis and Tom Meechan are the only players currently under contract for the 2016-17 season.

'The grass isn't always greener'

Feeney admits the Exiles will not be in a position to compete with offers from bigger clubs.

"They'll be waving the big chequebooks at them and agents will have a big part to play in that," Feeney added.

"I said to the players though, you don't want to go to these clubs where there's loads of players who can play in the team.

"If you can just have a little bit of competition with players around and playing week in, week out, that's what I always wanted to do as a footballer.

"You've got to decide yourself. Yes you can go but the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Lenell John-Lewis
Lenell John-Lewis is one of only three County players under contract for next season

"If you keep playing and getting games under your belt, it'll happen. But I don't see why we can't progress here."

With safety secured with two games to play, Feeney has started his recruitment process for next season's League Two campaign.

The former Northern Ireland international confirmed he has already met with a couple of potential new signings and says the club's board have given him their "full backing."

On Saturday, County play their final home game of the season against fellow strugglers Notts County with changes expected.

Defenders Andrew Hughes (knee) and Darren Jones (thigh) are injury doubts, whilst youngsters Tom Owen-Evans, Kieran Parselle and Liam Angel are all set to be involved.

Striker Meechan, who joined from non-league St Neots Town in February, could make his first start for the club.

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