Newport County v Exeter City: Match preview

Lee Holmes facing lengthy spell out with ankle ligament damage

Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale will be without Lee Holmes for Saturday’s trip to Newport County after it was confirmed the 29-year-old could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with twisted ankle ligaments.

The left winger, who has scored five goals in 16 games this season, left Huish Park on crutches on Saturday following a collision with Yeovil Town keeper Artur Krysiak.

Added to that left-back Craig Woodman also had to be substituted just after half-time after aggravating a groin strain leaving City short on numbers down that side of the pitch.

“It is a shame, a real shame because Lee and (Craig) Woodman were building a nice working relationship down that left-hand side,” said Tis. 

“Lee has gone for a scan and he is going to be out for a while. We are not sure for how long, but he will not be back too soon. He has twisted his ankle ligaments and we are not sure of the extent of it at the moment.

“Craig was one of the two players who had had a fitness test before the (Yeovil) game having been off injured. 

“He and Reuben Reid both had a fitness test and declared themselves fit and I played them both. 

“Perhaps it was not the right thing to do in the end and Craig is suffering off the back of the Boxing Day game having already been injured. It is a toss of a coin whether he will be fit for New Year’s Eve and Rueben Reid is getting better slowly.”

That could leave Tis with plenty of selection issues heading into the match at Rodney Parade, but he has confirmed that Troy Archibald-Henville is fit and back for selection, while Robbie Simpson is also set for a return. 

Liam McAlinden has also been impressing with his substitute appearances of late and could be an option on the left side of attack – a position he excelled in away at Leyton Orient in late November.

Newport go into the match bottom of the table and having lost their last four in all competitions. However, their pitch at Rodney Parade is notoriously difficult and City will struggle to play their free-flowing passing football. 

Added to that, League Two is so tight and therefore Tis will not be taking Graham Westley’s team or the conditions they will face lightly.

“Every game is different in League Two, but whether you are playing top of the league or bottom of the league, you are always in for a challenge,” said Tis. “We are in a good run of results and it bodes well for the second half of the season. 

“It is good for confidence, but we have shown in the last month that we have been a quite a tight, disciplined team. I expect, hope and urge the team to do the same on Saturday at Newport. 

“And that is regardless of how they choose to set up and how the pitch plays. Whatever the variables are we hope to be competitive and in the game and giving ourselves a chance. 

Speaking about the bobbly pitch, in particular, Tis added: “Ultimately it is about footballers making good decisions and having instinct and common sense. 

“The best footballers tend to make the best decisions. There will be one or two directions from us and encouragement to do certain things but ultimately if we play some football and, at times, choose to do the basics well and just mix our game up we should give ourselves a chance.”