NEWPORT County AFC striker Padraig Amond would be the first to admit that he’s not been at his best at the start of the new season, but it’s far too soon to write off the finest front man in the club’s modern history.

Not since the days of John Aldridge and Tommy Tynan – before the 1989 rebirth – have County had a goal-getter as prolific as Amond in the Football League.

The Irishman has netted 42 times in 124 appearances for the Exiles, giving him a goal ratio of around one every three games.

Last season he and Jamille Matt were the first County strikers to score 20 goals in a season since Aaron O’Connor in the Conference in 2012-2013.

Craig Reid hit 27 in the Conference South in 2009-2010 but Amond’s tally of 23 goals last season was the best in the Football League since Aldridge’s 27 in 1983-1984.

He’s been struggling to make much of an impact in front of goal in the last month and was dropped for last week’s win at Swindon Town and taken off before George Nurse’s late winner on Saturday.

But, even though he’s not been in peak form, Amond is County’s top scorer once again with five goals in 14 appearances in all competitions.

Before Saturday he had been involved in 45 per cent of the team’s league goals and his stats are pretty similar to the same stage of the last two campaigns.

In his first 14 games after arriving from Hartlepool United in August 2017, Amond scored six times.

Last season he had just four goals in his first 14 appearances.

Over the past two years he’s endured goalless streaks of nine, 11 and 14 games, before finishing the season with 14 goals and 23 respectively.

So, even when he’s going through a tough time, the former Grimsby Town man has shown that he can recover his scoring touch.

Campaign Series:

Nobody should be calling time on Amond’s career just yet and it’s premature to be talking about him as a potential replacement for Michael Flynn if and when the manager departs Rodney Parade.

As he said when that prospect was put to him last week: “I’m 31! I’m not finishing playing any time soon.”

A football obsessive, Amond is studying for his coaching badges and he should make a fine manager at some point.

But he still has plenty to offer on the pitch before he switches to the dugout.

“I probably look at things a little bit more than a lot of the other players, with regards to what the manager’s doing and the assistant and the analysts because I’m trying to learn for when it eventually does happen,” he added.

“You pick up little things from different managers and there are things that the gaffer does that I do look at and think ‘that’s something I’ll take on’.

“But, touch wood, it’s not any time soon. I’ve got no interest in finishing playing any time soon because I’ve got a lot to give still.”

When he was dropped for the trip to Swindon, Amond responded in the right way by coming off the bench to create the crucial second goal for Matt.

Campaign Series:

And the striker’s professionalism is an example to the whole squad, according to Flynn.

“I want difficult decisions and I’ve got a fantastic group of players who, when I speak to them and tell them my reasons, they understand,” said the manager.

“They might not always agree, and that’s fine by me, but they understand it and they react in the right way – very professionally.

“I won’t have anybody who thinks they’re bigger than the team. It’s a team effort and it’s not just the XI – it’s the 18 [on match-day] and the squad of 24 who all support each other and want what’s best for the team.

“I’ve been in changing rooms before where somebody’s got dropped and they want the team to lose. I haven’t got that here and if I did have, they wouldn’t be here.”

It also has to be said that Amond is much more than a goal scorer.

His work rate in defending from the front and his willingness to drop back and help out when needed are key factors in the Exiles excellent defensive record.

Flynn’s men have kept 20 clean sheets in the league in 2019 – three more than anyone else in the top four tiers of English football.

Amond has played his part in that remarkable record and I have no doubt that the goals will come at the other end.

My money would be on him finishing as the club’s top scorer for the third successive season.