John Askey spoke to our Port Vale reporter Mike Baggaley ahead of this weekend’s game against Tranmere. On the agenda was the start to the season and some individual performances…
HOW PLEASED ARE YOU WITH YOUR LEAGUE START – WOULD YOU HAVE TAKEN YOUR 19 POINTS FROM TEN GAMES?
John Askey: “Very much. Averaging nearly two points a game is what you want to do. There’s a long way to go but it’s a good start so I am pleased with that.
“You just hoping we can continue it. I am sure we will have our ups and downs along the way but I don’t think there’s an outstanding team in the league as yet. I don’t think there is anybody who has taken it by storm.
“I know Newport have started well but there is nobody we have played where you think we shouldn’t have won the game. The majority of games have been very even so, as long as we can keep working hard, and keep our discipline, and we have that little bit of luck with injuries, then there is no reason why we can’t be up there.”
HAVING MADE EIGHT CHANGES IN THE 4-2 TROPHY WIN OVER LIVERPOOL UNDER-21s, HOW PLEASED WERE YOU WITH THE PERFORMANCE?
John Askey: “It was nice to score goals. The main thing from that was to get game time into players and for people to work hard. The figures were very high with the amount of running they did, so that was pleasing.
“It’s always difficult when players haven’t had games, so you know they are not always going to be at their best. So long as they work hard and have a go that is all we ask. Nine times out of ten you will get a result.”
IS THE TROPHY PROVING TO BE USEFUL TO GIVE PLAYERS GAME TIME?
John Askey: “It has this time because we have had the squad to cope with it. It has served its purpose. Such as with Dino (Visser), it keeps him up to match speed so he’s not starting from scratch.
“There aren’t that many games in the competition and with having no reserve team football…..it is better than reserve team football. At the end of it there is Wembley, then all of a sudden it becomes very important if you get close to that.”
AND £40,000 EARNED SO FAR HELPS? (£20,000 for entering, £8,000 for each of the two group wins and £4,000 for the draw with Tranmere)
John Askey: “Yes, massively. That was the biggest disappointment about the FA Cup. It wasn’t so much going out it was more the money side of it. There are no supporters coming through the turnstiles so the more money you can get in the better for the football club.”
YOU MENTIONED VALE AREN’T PLAYING RESERVE FOOTBALL – WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN TOO MUCH THIS SEASON?
John Askey: “Yes, it would have been impossible with the amount of games we have. You can’t see where we would fit the games in. It will come to a stage where we have to use everybody, especially as we get to December and around Christmas time.
“At the moment we haven’t had too many problems with Covid or injuries. If we have had them we have been able to get over it because of the players we have got.”
HOW IS HARRY MCKIRDY? DID HE JUST HAVE CRAMP AT THE END OF THE LIVERPOOL GAME?
John Askey: “Yes it was cramp. Harry was fine, I thought he did well.
“He was very positive when he got the ball, took his goal well, made a good goal for Mark Cullen and showed what he can do.”
WE SPOKE TO ALEX HURST AFTER THE GAME AFTER HE DID REALLY WELL ON THE NIGHT. GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW HE IS DOING
John Askey : “Alex has improved from last year. I always knew he had ability but I don’t think he was using is as well as he should have been. He was working hard but he wasn’t going past anybody, he wasn’t being positive enough. I think that’s what he has brought into his game, He is starting to go on the outside of teams and is pulling the ball back.
“He is getting more shots in and has got his first goal. He is still only 21 and if he keeps improving then he will force his way in at some stage.”
IN THE SHORT TERM IF A NATIONAL LEAGUE CLUB CAME IN FOR HIM ON LOAN WOULD YOU CONSIDER THAT?
John Askey: “If somebody came in for him then yes because I think it would do him good just to get out and play games at a decent level. He is more than capable of playing in the Conference (National League). It would do his development good. But if he doesn’t get out to a Conference club then I am more than happy to have him around. There is no reason why we couldn’t throw him in at some stage.”
WAS IT ALWAYS THE PLAN TO GIVE MANNY OYELEKE JUST THE 45 MINUTES ON HIS RETURN FROM INJURY AGAINST LIVERPOOL? HOW PLEASED WERE YOU WITH HOW HE DID?
John Askey: “I thought he started off gingerly. Obviously he is a bit wary of his injury but after five or ten minutes he started to relax and showed what a good player he is. It was a great opportunity to give him 45 minutes.
“We were able to do that with him and Scott Burgess, and bring Tom Conlon and Luke Joyce on. It was better than training to give all four players 45 minutes.”
SO, PLENTY OF OPTIONS THIS WEEKEND?
John Askey: “Yes, apart from Zak Mills (who is isolating) and James Gibbons (who is recovering from hamstring surgery) we have a full squad.”