NEWPORT County AFC defender James Clarke will miss the chance to haunt his former side again when Walsall head to Rodney Parade tomorrow.

The 32-year-old centre-back missed the Exiles’ League Two opener at Sutton United last week with a hip injury.

It was hoped that Clarke, who played a full part in pre-season, might be fight for the first home game of the campaign against the Saddlers but he won’t be risked.

“He is still not available but it's probably a return between Luton and Bradford for James,” said manager James Rowberry. “We have had a scan back and the plan is for him to be available for Bradford.”

South Wales Argus: County defender James ClarkeCounty defender James Clarke

County won the corresponding fixture 2-1 last season thanks to Clarke’s header at the death against the side that released him the previous summer.

His absence is likely to lead to an unchanged central defensive trio of captain Matty Dolan flanked by fellow stalwart Mickey Demetriou and summer signing Declan Drysdale.

Priestley Farquharson is still out of contention as the club take a cautious approach after the knee operation that ended his 2021/22 season early.

The central defender could return in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie against Luton at Kenilworth Road with Rowberry likely to rotate his squad against the Championship club.

County gave six debutants starts at Sutton – Drysdale, left wing-back Will Evans, midfielders Sam Bowen and Aaron Wildig, goalscorer Omar Bogle and his strike partner Offrande Zanzala.

Cardiff forward Chanka Zimba got an extremely brief cameo in added time while Liverpool loanee Adam Lewis was an unused substitute.

How County lined up at Sutton: Townsend, Norman, Drysdale, Dolan (captain), Demetriou, Evans, Bowen (Willmott), Bennett, Wildig, Bogle (Collins), Zanzala (Zimba).

Subs not used: Day, Adam Lewis, Aaron Lewis, Waite.