INFLUENTIAL defender Matty Dolan is set to return from concussion for Newport County AFC in their crunch clash at League Two play-off rivals Exeter City on Saturday – and give boss Michael Flynn a selection headache.

The 28-year-old has been the start of the season for the promotion-chasing Exiles since moving to the heart of the back three from midfield.

Dolan has defended strongly and also carried the ball forward, while he is also the club’s joint top scorer in the league with six goals (five penalties) and is the left-footed option for corners and free-kicks.

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However, he suffered a blow to the head in the closing stages of the draw against Carlisle United and was withdraw by the medical staff and missed last weekend’s loss to leaders Cambridge and Tuesday’s vital win against Crawley.

“You’ve got to follow all the protocols and took a pretty hefty what to the head so have just been making sure everything is right before I am back out there,” said Dolan.

“It was a strange one, you can’t be too careful. You are desperate to get out there but have to follow the doctors’ orders and make sure you are right.”

Flynn said after the 2-0 win against Crawley that Dolan has been given the all clear to return by the medics and is now in the mix for the starting XI for seventh-placed County’s trip to eighth-placed Exeter.

That presents Flynn with a welcome selection headache after two impressive outings by Liam Shephard since moving in from wing-back.

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With Aaron Lewis performing strongly down the right, the manager could leave Shephard at right-sided centre-back along with Dolan and Mickey Demetriou and move Scot Bennett back to midfield.

However, the performance of Anthony Hartigan against Crawley also gave Flynn food for thought.

The AFC Wimbledon loanee started for the first time since February and produced a fine display alongside Josh Sheehan and Joss Labadie.

“He was very, very good and Anthony is a prime example of somebody keeping up their fitness because they don’t know when they are going to get thrown back in,” said Flynn. “He covered every blade of grass.

“It took him 15/20 minutes to get into the game, which is understandable, but we he did he was quick, on the front foot and did everything that I brought him to the club to do. That should give him the confidence now to crack on.”

One man who should keep his place in the starting line-up is Wales squad goalkeeper Tom King, who was a surprise inclusion in midweek.

Nick Townsend has had a super campaign to earn a new two-year contract but paid the price for allowing a weak Cambridge header to slip past in the 1-0 loss in Newport last weekend.

“I've said all season that there is healthy competition,” said Flynn about his two quality ‘keepers. “I've chatted with Tom and have tried to be true to my word. It's a tough position because when they make a mistake it's highlighted.

“Nick has been outstanding this season and that's why he's had a new deal, Tom has been champing at the bit and had to back it up.

“Unfortunately [for him] he had nothing to do against Crawley, but I was really impressed with his kicking and talking.”