ANYONE who attended last week’s fans’ open meeting at Rodney Parade cannot help but have been impressed by the presentation from Ryland Morgans – one of the secret weapons for Newport County AFC this season.

The 43-year-old played for the Exiles in the mid-1990s but he’s enjoyed much greater success since hanging up his boots and turning to sport science.

Morgans has worked at Swansea City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Everton as a performance coach and with Wales under both Gary Speed and Chris Coleman – playing a part in the national side’s run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

This season he’s worked as assistant manager for the Ivory Coast national team and as a technical coach at Luton Town.

Since last summer he’s also worked on a freelance basis with County, after manager Michael Flynn persuaded the board that his expertise would help give the club a more professional approach.

And, according to chairman Gavin Foxall, Morgans has made a big difference already.

“Ryland looks after all the performance science for us,” said Foxall.

“Before the Leyton Orient game it was the first time for many years that we’d seen all the players training. There was an 11 v 11 with players on the side as well.

“A lot of that is down to the work that Ryland has done and the proposal that he and the manager brought to the board at the start of the season is now coming to fruition.

“We think it’s a good investment and it shows how we’re trying to progress the club.”

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So what is it that Morgans actually does?

“I worked for many years in the Premier League with some of the best players in the world and for Wales for eight years,” he explained.

“What I’ve tried to do is take some of those principals and methods that I adopted and utilised with those clubs and with the national team and filter them into Newport County as and where appropriate, based on the number of staff, the experience of the staff and the facilities.

“I’ve looked to support and educate some of the existing staff who are at the starting point of their careers.

“It’s my role to support them and give them the confidence so that when they make a decision, it is founded on science.

“They can rely and lean on my experience of some of the problems that they might face on a daily basis.

“In terms of the performance side, it’s fairly simple – we want to make the players, as individuals and as a unit, become more efficient and effective at what they do.

“We want them to be fit and fresh to perform,” he added.

“It’s no good paying a player x amount of money a week if they’re injured for eight, 10, 12 or 14 of those weeks across the season.

“By investing in what we’re trying to do now, we’ll hopefully be able to increase player availability and reduce the risk of injury and illness.

“Injuries inevitably happen, but it’s my job to return players to fitness as quickly as possible.

“We also want to make players stronger and more powerful and prepare them the best we can for match-days.

“We’re making strides. There are still significant strides that we want to make but these things take time and we’re certainly on the road to improving that facet of how we perform.”

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And, despite recent injuries to Ryan Inniss, Mark O’Brien, Ryan Haynes and Ashley Baker, Flynn is convinced that the work Morgans is doing is making a difference.

“He’s been really good,” said the Exiles boss. “Everybody has got different expertise and Ryland is exceptional at the work he does.

“I learn different things and improve myself through working with people like Ryland and it makes us more professional.

“There’s more substance behind what we do day in and day out, week in and week out now.

“And it paints a clearer picture for the players; they understand why we do things on certain days, and why we don’t.

“Sometimes they’re chomping at the bit and they want to do more training, but it doesn’t always fit in to what the data and the stats say.

“We’ve had the GPS in the past and we’ve had people in that role, but not to the level that Ryland is.

“We’re very fortunate that he’s living almost on the doorstep and that I’ve got a good relationship with him and we’re able to tap into his expertise."

Flynn, who has been nominated for the League Two manager of the month award for January, added: "I’m here to learn; it’s not my way or the highway. I’m keen to improve myself and the team.”

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