CAPTAIN Joss Labadie has been backed to give Newport County AFC a physical edge in their push for promotion.

The skipper is set to be back from suspension in midfield tomorrow evening when the fifth-placed Exiles take on seventh-placed Exeter City at Rodney Parade (kick-off 7pm).

It was meant to be the final fixture of 2020 only for torrential rain to lead to a late postponement because of a waterlogged pitch.

Three County games have been victims of weather this season and the Dragons Guinness PRO14 tussle with Edinburgh last Friday was scratched because of a frozen surface.

Conditions will be challenging against Exeter tomorrow and second-placed Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, with manager Michael Flynn glad to have a key figure back in his team.

Labadie was given a three-match ban for reacting to being caught late in Oldham, receiving the third red card of his County career.

However, the 6ft 1ins midfielder can give the Exiles an edge by channelling his aggression in the right way.

"I think Joss doesn't realise how much of an impact he can have, especially how the pitch is now," said Flynn.

BLOW: Joss Labadie was sent off in Oldham

BLOW: Joss Labadie was sent off in Oldham

"That's not downplaying his footballing ability, it's just his physical presence is important around the midfield area when it's not going to be pretty or easy to play football on.

"The more regains and second balls that we win gives us a better chance to put pressure on their goalkeeper and defence. Joss is huge in that aspect and let's just hope that he is on top of his game."

Labadie's style, winning free-kicks and using his experience to break up play, can help an Exiles side that need to come to terms with their challenging pitch.

Flynn admits the style that led to them setting the pace, building from the back with Josh Sheehan pulling the strings, has had to be ditched for a more pragmatic approach.

"We've got to make sure we win the ugly games because I'll be honest, sometimes it's not going to be great," said the manager.

"When it's not great what makes you feel better? Three points. Against Grimsby we had 10 men so it was always going to be quite negative from us, even though we could have scored a second and third.

"I was so proud of them in that game [a 1-0 win] because they dug in and Grimsby were never scoring with that determination."

County have Labadie back from suspension but are still without Liam Shephard and Scot Bennett because of bans for red cards.

Matty Dolan limped off in the 1-0 loss to Southend but is fit for selection, either in defence or midfield.

Veteran forward Kevin Ellison hasn't played since pulling up with a strain against Salford in mid-January but is back in training and could feature.