WALES international Joe Ledley came so close to joining Newport County AFC that he had an Exiles squad number lined up before he took up a late offer to move Down Under.

The 33-year-old former Cardiff, Celtic, Crystal Palace and Derby midfielder trained with the League Two side after a month-long contract with Charlton Athletic expired in January.

Ledley, who was keen to stay in the mix for the Euros despite not featuring under Ryan Giggs since May 2018, mulled over a deal to drop down the leagues and sign with County.

But instead of joining Michael Flynn's squad, and fulfilling his stated ambition of moving closer to home, he opted to head for Australia and play under former Wales teammate Carl Robinson at Newcastle Jets.

Speaking to Elis James' Feast of Football podcast on the BBC, Ledley confirmed he was close to returning to Wales.

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"Yeah, very close," he said. "I spoke to the chairman (Gavin Foxhall) a lot, went in every day and saw Flynny.

"They wanted me to sign and I was close to signing, I had my squad number, everything was sorted, but when Carl got the job he wanted me to come over for the end of the season.

"I didn't want to go over there, not enjoy and come home, so I signed until the end of the season and I loved it.

"I felt bad on Newport, because it seems like I used them just to train. It wasn't like that at all.

"They are a great group of boys, professionals good players and a great manager. I just wanted to try something different."

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Ledley has headed for the A-League and was last in action on March 23 before returning to Cardiff because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 77-times capped midfielder said he was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the Australian game but is disappointed that he has had to drop down the levels so swiftly after being a regular with Palace in the Premier League in 2017.

"It was a massive shock," he said. "I left Crystal Palace at 30 and after the Euros in 2016 I thought it would be easier to get a club, hopefully in the Premier League or abroad.

"But football is completely changing and they don't want anyone over 30, even though you've got massive experience.

"It's been frustrating and I have had a lot of time when I've not been playing and I think I deserve to be in certain places and a certain level.

"It was just a massive shock to me to go from the Premier League to Championship and then from the Championship to maybe signing for a League Two one in three years."