The new league season is just three weeks away, and John Askey has some interesting selection decisions to make for that opening game at home to Crawley.
It’s a long season but Vale will be looking to pick up where they left off having finished the 2019/20 campaign on an eight-game unbeaten run.
The manager’s choice of keeper might be one of his most straightforward selection decisions. Scott Brown has been the undisputed number one for the last two seasons, a status he has earned with remarkably consistent performances.
The Vale are looking to bring in a keeper as cover and competition for him, having released Jonny Maddison, but it would be a surprise if the new man dislodges Brown in that opening league game.
The manager has options in the full back positions, particularly having signed Zak Mills, the former Oldham right back who can also play on the left if required.
James Gibbons was on the right for much of last season and will hope to get the nod, while Cristian Montano will be looking to continue at left back having done well there last season.
Vale also have competition at centre back after Shaun Brisley signed a new deal having impressed when he get his chance in the second half of the season once Nathan Smith was injured.
But Smith’s partnership with captain Leon Legge was one of the strengths of the team last season and so Brisley would do well to take either of their shirts.
Luke Joyce has to be favourite to play in the midfield holding role having done that so well throughout last season. That leaves Manny Oyeleke, Tom Conlon, Scott Burgess and new signing Danny Whitehead battling it out for the two attacking midfield places in the 4-3-3. That’s tough to call, but Oyeleke has missed part of pre-season through injury so might need a little more time to force his way into the starting line up.
Up front, David Worrall and David Amoo have to be favourites in the wide positions, having done so well there last season.
In the central role, Tom Pope will start the season with a six-game ban, unless his appeal is successful. So that leaves Mark Cullen, Devante Rodney and potentially another new signing competing for that spot.
Nicky Maynard has been linked, as has Hallam Hope, so we’ll see what develops.
Potential Vale starting XI v Crawley: Brown, Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano, Joyce, Burgess, Conlon, Amoo, Rodney, Worrall.