Port Vale have sold striker Richie Bennett to Stockport County for an undisclosed fee.
The 29 year old has signed a two-year deal with County, who are pushing for promotion from the National League.
His departure leaves Mark Cullen, Tom Pope and Jordan Archer competing for the central striker spot in John Askey’s 4-3-3 system over the final nine games of the regular season.
Bennett joined the Vale on a free transfer from Carlisle last summer, signing a two-year contract. But he has been in and out of the side, scoring seven goals in 20 starts and ten substitute appearances.
His last start was in the 1-0 win at Northampton on February 8, since when Askey has gone with Cullen or Pope.
Archer returned on loan from Stockport last month, giving Vale more cover for the end-of-the-season run in and, potentially, the play-offs.
Stockport are managed by former Vale boss Jim Gannon who managed Bennett at Northwich Victoria.
Bennett told Stockport’s official website: “I’ve always kept in touch with Jim wherever I’ve been, so when there was interest from County, I spoke to my agent and it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.
“I talked to the gaffer at Vale and he said that he wouldn’t stand in my way, which I appreciated, and we managed to get it over the line.
“I’ve a lot of good memories from Northwich with Jim, I did really well there and we had a good bunch of lads. Jim being the great manager that he is, we were successful, and I’ve appreciated him for putting his trust in me.”
Vale return to action on Saturday when they are at home to Crawley, the first of back-to-back home games also featuring next Tuesday’s match against promotion rivals Bradford City. Askey’s side are eighth, just one point outside the play-off spots and on a run of eight games unbeaten.
Jake Taylor and Cristian Montano are likely to return to the squad. Midfielder Taylor missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Cheltenham through illness while left back Montano also sat out the game as he recovered from a back problem.