NEWPORT County AFC welcome captain Joss Labadie back at Port Vale on Saturday after past indiscipline caught up with them against Southend United.

The Exiles have been without the midfielder since he was sent off after just 14 minutes of the fixture against Oldham Athletic for reacting to being caught by Marcel Hilssner.

It cost County dearly at Boundary Park, where they lost 3-2, and his absence was felt in the fixtures against Harrogate, Grimsby and Southend.

The Exiles have lost just three games this season when Labadie has been in the starting line-up. He has made 22 appearances and started 16 times.

Wing-back Liam Shephard has another game left of his suspension for a dismissal in Harrogate while midfielder Scot Bennett will miss the trip to Vale Park and home game against Exeter for his reckless challenge against the Mariners.

The return of Labadie could soften the potential blow of losing Matty Dolan, who suffered a strain after a burst forward in midweek and then was caught late off the ball.

BACK: Joss Labadie has served his three-match suspension

BACK: Joss Labadie has served his three-match suspension

That led to Jack Evans coming on for a debut and forming a trio with Josh Sheehan and Anthony Hartigan, a combination not suited to the tricky Rodney Parade surface.

County may have finished with 11 men on Tuesday but Flynn felt the damage had been done in previous weeks after a 1-0 loss to a side that started the night bottom of the table.

Manager Michael Flynn admitted: “This is where the red cards start hurting us because would I have started with that midfield? No.

“That has probably cost Matty Dolan an injury because he had to play in there, then we had a midfield that had never played together.

“We didn’t win enough battles in there and they have to learn quickly, because they might have to play together again.”

County will welcome playing an away game against 16th-placed Vale after having to contend with the bobbles caused by the Newport mixture of mud and sand.

They are looking to win on the road for the first time since December 8, although that streak has included hard-earned points against Salford, Crawley and Cheltenham.

The Exiles then return to Rodney Parade for meetings with promotion rivals Exeter and Forest Green Rovers, knowing that they have to find a way to take the spoils in challenging conditions.

“We know this pitch is not going to be conducive to free-flowing football where you create chance after chance. It’s gone,” said Flynn.