MATTY Dolan is prepared to wear the bruises if he goes up against Joss Labadie after spending four campaigns reaping the rewards of being teammates with the all-action midfielder.

Newport County AFC could go up against their former captain when they kick off 2022 at Walsall tomorrow afternoon.

Labadie swapped Rodney Parade for the Bescot Stadium last summer but was denied a return to his old stamping ground in September due to suspension.

The 31-year-old has been nursing a groin injury but could lead the charge for the Saddlers today.

Labadie, who scored the only goal of the game in last season’s respective fixture, is always in the thick of the action, putting himself about with or without the ball.

The midfielder isn’t shy of getting stuck in and is a master of drawing a foul, which could put him up against the man who he passed the captain’s armband onto.

Dolan will either be at the heart of the defence of sitting in front of a back four and will learn when the teamsheets are handed in just before 2pm whether friend turns foe for 90 minutes.

South Wales Argus: INFLUENTIAL: Former County captain Joss Labadie in action for WalsallINFLUENTIAL: Former County captain Joss Labadie in action for Walsall

“Everyone knows what to expect from Labs,” said Dolan. “He was a very good servant for this football club.

“I’ve played against Labs loads and everyone always says it’s nice to have him on your team!

“He is one of those players and has a style of play that has worked for him; he is 30-odd now and has played a lot of football at a good level.

“I still talk to him now but I’ll be wanting to get one over on him as much as he wants to get one over me.

“You know what you are going to get from him and he has been brilliant... but there are 22 of us on the pitch.

“Ultimately the main focus is on us and we have to keep doing what we are doing. We know what we are good at.”

County haven’t played since December 18 because of coronavirus postponements but they haven’t had things easy.

Those that didn’t test positive may have been able to enjoy an extra couple of roast potatoes on Christmas Day but were soon put through their paces.

South Wales Argus: LEADER: County captain Matty DolanLEADER: County captain Matty Dolan

“It was my first Christmas off in 10 years,” said Dolan. “You get used to it being a big period and that’s something you get used to, so it was strange to have all that time off.

“Everyone managed to spend some quality time with their family - everyone that wasn’t isolating, that is! - and it was a nice change.

“As you get older in your career you appreciate that a bit more and I suppose every cloud has a silver lining.

“But anyone who was driving past pitch two at Dragon Park on Christmas Eve will have seen how hard we were working.

“It was a real chance to get on the training pitch and the manager got some good work into us.”

County will hope to transfer that onto the Bescot Stadium turf at 3pm.

Fixtures: Barrow v Bradford, Crawley v Colchester, Forest Green v Stevenage, Hartlepool v Oldham, Orient v Briston Rovers, Scunthorpe v Carlisle, Sutton v Exeter, Swindon v Northampton, Walsall v County. (Postponed - Harrogate v Port Vale, Rochdale v Mansfield, Salford v Tranmere)