THERE has been a lot of frustration around Rodney Parade this season – none more so than for midfielder Joss Labadie.

The 26-year-old joined Newport County AFC on a two-year deal this summer and made a bright start to his Exiles career with a goal in the opening-day defeat by Mansfield.

He featured in eight of his side’s first nine matches before a hamstring injury at Doncaster forced him to sit out the next eight.

Labadie was an unused substitute for the FA Cup first round tie away to Alfreton and earned a recall to the team when Wimbledon visited Newport in the EFL Trophy.

However, another hamstring problem in the first half of County’s 2-0 win and a further five games on the sidelines followed.

But after an appearance off the bench in the home loss to Stevenage and then a start against Morecambe last weekend, Labadie is hopeful his injury worries are firmly behind him.

Now he wants to make up for lost time and help the Exiles move up the League Two table, starting today at Crawley (kick-off 3pm).

“It seems to be good at the moment,” said Labadie when asked how his hamstring was.

“Eight weeks I was out for but hopefully that’s all in the past now and I’ve just got to do my work on it and help the team try and climb the table.

“I missed a lot of football which wasn’t nice, but now I’m back fit I’ll try and contribute in a positive way.

“I’ve had injuries before and I’ll have injuries again. You can’t let it affect your mindset and you’ve got to carry on being positive.”

On paper, things don’t look good for County, who sit bottom of the league table, four points away from safety but with a game in hand.

But Labadie is more than happy to embrace the ambition of manager Graham Westley, who reckons the club should be setting its sights a lot higher than just staying up.

“We know we’ve got quality in the dressing room and we back the gaffer 100%, and if that’s what the target is as a team, to get up by the play-offs, then that’s what the target is,” he added.

“We’ve played most of the teams in the league now and we feel that we can more than match anyone, so I can’t see why that’s an unrealistic target.

“We’ve not had a good half of the season but I’m sure the second half will be much more positive.

“We’re not scared of anyone and we’ve matched the best teams in the league.

“We don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be up there.”