THE fate of Newport County AFC captain Joss Labadie hammers home the fragility of life as a League Two footballer.

Labadie has been a key figure for County ever since he arrived at Rodney Parade in the summer of 2016 and has to go down as Warren Feeney’s best signing for the club.

His first season at Rodney Parade was hampered by a series of injuries but he played a huge role in the Exiles’ revival after Graham Westley was sacked.

Michael Flynn made him captain and Labadie responded by netting a last-minute winner in his first match in charge at Crewe Alexandra.

South Wales Argus:

The skipper was an inspirational figure as County clawed their way back from the brink of relegation and completed the Great Escape last May.

And he’s been a colossus during this campaign, scoring six goals in 32 appearances and producing some barnstorming performances.

The highlight was undoubtedly his man-of-the-match display against Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur at Rodney Parade in January.

Labadie bossed the game with an incredible first-half showing that left Spurs spooked and internationals Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama chasing shadows.

And former England star Steven Gerrard, one of the best midfielders these isles have ever produced, lavished praise on the Exiles skipper as he watched on from the BT Sport studio.

Displays like that did not go unnoticed by rival clubs and County rejected at least one bid during the January transfer window.

His current contract is due to run out this summer and the club opened talks over a new deal as long ago as December.

Labadie opted to stay in January, determined to help the club push for a place in the League Two play-offs, but there would certainly have been a number of clubs keen to get his signature at the end of the season.

South Wales Argus:

Speaking before the trip to Yeovil Town on March 10, Flynn was optimistic that the skipper would sign a new deal.

"It's been going back and fore and hopefully we'll come to a decision sooner rather than later," Flynn said. "It will be a big boost for everybody and give Joss some stability as well. I'm quietly excited about it."

But that match at Huish Park may even turn out to have been Labadie’s last in a County shirt.

Flynn revealed after Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Luton Town that the 27-year-old had suffered a suspected anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury in training last week.

Scans have now confirmed that horrible news but we won’t know until later in the week, when Labadie meets with a surgeon, exactly how long his recovery will take.

Speaking at the weekend, Flynn feared that it could be as long as a year and that would be a major blow for someone who turns 28 in August.

Labadie is more optimistic, posting on Twitter last night that he hopes to be back in around six months.

County players past and present have been out for much longer with similar problems.

Andrew Hughes, Lenell John-Lewis and Josh Sheehan have all been through the gruelling rehabilitation process that Labadie is about to begin.

Hughes and Sheehan both spent around 11 months on the sidelines, while John-Lewis returned after nine months last season.

Hopefully Labadie's injury is not as severe and we will see him back in the thick of the action in an amber shirt before the end of the year.