RICHIE Wellens stated Swindon Town’s two-goal loss to Newport County was only part of what was a bad day for the football club, after club captain Dion Conroy was forced off the pitch early with a seemingly long-term knee injury.

Conroy had just won back possession for Town with less than 10 minutes played when rising above Jamille Matt to nod the ball back into the visitors’ half.

But the 23-year-old was quickly thrown to the floor clutching his knee after colliding with County skipper Joss Labadie when lunging for the ball in a 50-50 challenge.

Conroy, who was understandably reduced to tears having only last year recovered from a long-term knee injury, was helped off the pitch by two members of Town’s medical team and replaced by midfielder Adam May.

Wellens revealed after the game he is likely to be forced to look into the free agent market given the severity of Conroy’s injury.

But, first and foremost, his thoughts went out to the defender ahead of what is likely to be another long road to recovery.

Wellens said: “It’s been a bad day, my thoughts are with Dion (Conroy).

“It’s bad one. We don’t know what it is yet, but it is a bad one.

“I didn’t want to lose Anthony (Grant) from midfield, but I feel Tom (Broadbent) is a bit low on confidence at the moment.

“If we put Tom on, we would’ve had two left-footers in the centre of defence. It’s too early for Taylor Curran.

“He’ll be a good player, but it’s too early to throw him into that environment with the wind and long balls against a relentless team like Newport.

“We didn’t lose the game because of Grant, I thought he did well. We lost it because we didn’t defend a set-play and didn’t react well enough to what was a horrendous situation.”

Affected by Conroy’s injury, stagnated Town let a goal slip from a corner 38 minutes into the first half when Mark O’Brien nodded past Luke McCormick’s reach.

Jamille Matt added to Town’s woes when he doubled the visitors’ lead in the concluding 10 minutes.

And Wellens admitted after the game that his men didn’t react well enough to losing Conroy, while criticising a number of key missed opportunities.

He added: “It was a horrendous start to the game under the circumstances (Dion Conroy’s injury).

“Ten to 15 minutes after the incident, we let it affect us. It was like we went down to 10 men.

“We resorted to playing like Newport do – aimless long balls and punting the ball forward.

“We knew the only way Newport could probably score against us was from a set-play, so that was disappointing.

“We were excellent in the second half, but little things went against us. If (Lloyd) Isgrove’s chance went in, I think we would’ve gone on to win the game.”