by Michael Pearlman
South Wales Argus
FORMER Forest Green captain Darren Jones will become Newport County’s first summer signing early next week, the SNJ understands.
The Exiles hope to finally deliver some good news after the weekend, despite as yet failing to announce a single player who has accepted a contract renewal. A host of players have been offered terms for next season.
The likes of Lenny Pidgeley, Andy Sandell, Darcy Blake, Ismail Yakubu, Max Porter, Lee Minshull, Mike Flynn and Chris Zebroski have all been offered renewals, but no announcements have yet been made on whether they’ve been accepted.
The Exiles have also announced their intention to revamp their youth set-up with Academy director Glyn Jones leaving the club and County intending to field a reserve side next term, but no details have been finalised on how the new set-up will be structured.
Midfielder Mike Flynn has been announced as having a role within the hierarchy, but it’s unclear where, particularly as the youth games will be played on the same day as first team matches with Flynn also retained as a first team player.
However, what does now seem certain, is that Flynn won’t be the only member of the squad next term enjoying a second stint at the club.
The SNJ can reveal that negotiations are almost concluded for central defender Jones, who is a free agent after rejecting the prospect of renewing his contract with AFC Wimbledon.
Jones, a Newport boy, born and bred, will play at Rodney Parade almost a decade after his first spell with the club.
The 30-year-old previously played for the Exiles in the 2004/05 season but his County career ended when he and teammate Andrew Thomas were both jailed for an assault in a Newport nightspot.
Jones served a couple of months before his release and, while Thomas rejoined then Conference South County, Jones opted to move to Forest Green Rovers.
Since then he’s enjoyed a constant tenure in the Football League with Hereford United, Aldershot Town, Shrewsbury Town and AFC Wimbledon.
Jones was released by the cash-strapped Shrews in January and was linked with a return to County then but he joined the Dons instead, making 18 appearances as they finished 20th in League Two.
Jones is being signed as a replacement for Harry Worley, who was released and Tony James, who has switched to a coaching role, as manager Justin Edinburgh works to reshape his squad.
County did register interest in Jones in January, but at the time it was felt they had enough cover in central defence.
Jones was recommended by then director of football Tim Harris and has also worked previously with assistant manager Dack, at Aldershot.