Newport County AFC’s first signing of the summer transfer window - Fraser Franks - believes he has joined the perfect club to take his career to the next level.
The 6’2” centre-back put pen to paper on a two-year contract with the club yesterday, which will see Franks stay at Rodney Parade through to the summer of 2020.
The 27-year old might be a familiar name to Exiles fans – having played against the club frequently during his career – alongside a short loan spell with County in the 2011/12 season.
Here, read what Franks exclusively told iFollow Exiles on his first day as an official Newport County AFC player – including why Mike Flynn was a key factor in his decision to join County, the extensive research he put in regarding the club before agreeing to join as-well as why he is delighted to be playing for the Rodney Parade crowd and not against them.
On joining Newport County AFC on a two-year contract…
“I just felt like I needed a new challenge. I’ve been at Stevenage for a few years now, they offered me a new deal, but I just felt like I needed to go elsewhere and into a new environment in order to test myself again.
“I needed to challenge myself and the manager here was the first one that I spoke to after the final day of the season. He made me feel wanted, made me feel like I would be valued whilst at Newport County AFC, so this was the club that I chose.
“You sign for a club obviously, but I think that you also sign for a manager. You need someone that believes in the same things that you do and from the first phone call I had with Mike Flynn, I was pretty much convinced that this was the club for me.”
On what the fans can expect from their new defender…
“I’d like to think of myself as a defender that works hard and puts his body on the line to try and help the team keep clean-sheets.
“I do like to play - get it out from the keeper and play - but the main thing is that I’m a defender first and foremost. I kick it, I head it, I tackle and I will give my all to the football club.
“I would like to feel that I am comfortable playing in any position and any system. I’ve played with a three at the back previously in my career, but I’ve also played in a four at the back as-well.
“To be honest, as long as I’m playing in a lot of games then I’m happy – that’s the main thing for me to achieve during my time here.
“I think the main thing on set-pieces as a defender is to stop them. But like any other defender, I would like to see myself as a person that can chip in with a few goals or at-least cause a danger from set pieces as-well.
“I want to bring that with me to this football club. Most defenders will try and target five goals a season so if I can get in and around that then I would be happy.”
On trying to force his way into the starting side for the 2018/19 campaign…
“I know Mickey Demetriou really well actually. I’ve given him a few texts over the summer just to see about living in Newport and stuff like that. I needed to know what he thought of the club and he was really positive.
“No matter what club you’re playing for, you should always have personal pride and I want to be the best player in every training session and every match.
“I want to bring others along as-well – I would like to think that I have developed myself into a leader, hopefully I can improve players whilst I’m here as-well - I know there are a lot of good young players here at Newport so I would like to work with them and be that kind of player as-well.
“One of my best friends is Christian Jolley – all the Newport fans will know him I’m sure – so I spoke to him quite a bit as-well.
“I spoke to quite a few people who have played for Newport in the past – I needed to do that initial research beforehand and everyone had nothing but good things to say about the football club and the manager.”
On how important the fans could be as the club look to progress on what they achieved last season…
“I always remember the stand behind the dugouts because that’s quite vocal. I would have to say that I’ve probably played against Newport more than any other club if I’m honest.
“I played at Spytty Park against them when I was 16/17 on loan in the Conference South and then played against them progressively throughout my career.
“It’s always been a tough game as-well as a tough atmosphere – it can always be a massive advantage if you have a fanbase like the one here that always gets behind the boys. I’m sure they will be doing that again this season.
“The fans will be crucial because we want to develop a positive outlook going forward. We want to be a team that is progressing constantly each season and that was another one of the reasons that I joined Newport.
“There’s a good fanbase, they are a big club in terms of the area so hopefully the fans can help us throughout the season.”
On where he thinks the club can go next season…
“You go into a season with a lot of hope. It’s clear that the club is on an upward trajectory now so hopefully I can come in and keep improving the team following what the boys did last year.
“For me personally, I go into it looking to play as many games as I can and help the team in any way that I can – both on and off the field.
“I think we just need to go into every game to try and win it. I’ve seen what it takes to achieve promotion – I’ve had it a few times during my career so far - and if we can get the right team-spirit, the right togetherness and the boys all work hard for each other then we have a great chance next season.
“As a squad I think everyone would be delighted if we could get into the play-offs.
“Any progression on what the club achieved last season would be a bonus. The boys did really well but like I said, if you’ve got a good team spirit – which I believe we’ve got here – then I think that could win a lot of points on its own.
“The gaffer had a lot of good things to say so I think it’s a good time to be at Newport County AFC and I’m really looking forward to it.”
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