This won’t make him feel any better as he starts a three-game ban, but recent history suggests Luke Joyce is the hardest person to replace in the Port Vale side.
The 33 year old will be missing a home league game, for only the third time since the start of last season, when the Vale take on Scunthorpe tomorrow (7pm). It’s no comfort to know the last two occasions were 1-0 defeats, to Carlisle in October and Walsall last December.
Throw in the fact that Vale went from leading 2-0 to losing 4-3, after the holding midfielder’s 52nd-minute red card for a late challenge at home to Tranmere on Saturday, and it’s clear that replacing him will take some thinking about.
John Askey confirmed at his Monday press conference that Manny Oyeleke is in contention as he steps up his return from injury.
The manager said: “That is what we will have a look at. Whether we play with Manny or whether we go with four up front or whether we change the system totally, it is something we will think about.
“As we have always said, at the moment if somebody goes out we have somebody more than capable of coming back in.”
Oyeleke in for Joyce in front of the back four would mean the fewest changes and allow the manager to stick with the 4-3-3 system that has served Vale well since he was appointed in February 2019.
Askey’s other options include changing to 4-4-2, with two from Tom Pope, Mark Cullen, Devante Rodney and Theo Robinson up front, or potentially moving Worrall back into the midfield three of a 4-3-3 and giving Rodney, Cristian Montano, Harry McKirdy or Alex Hurst the chance to replace Worrall out wide.
Whatever team he picks, Askey is hoping his side recover quickly from the blow of losing that Tranmere game having led 3-2 with two of the six minutes of injury time gone.
The manager had no complaints about Joyce’s red card but felt Leon Legge had a goal wrongly disallowed when Vale led 2-0 before the break, then was unhappy with the penalty given against Legge that allowed Rovers to level at 2-2 on 72 minutes.
Askey said: “The sending off had a big bearing on the game. One or two decisions didn’t go for us but when you get to the 90th minute at a goal in front then, even with ten men, I thought we should have seen the game out.
“A mistake for their third goal let them back in it.”
Vale would have gone to fourth had they held on against Tranmere but have that opportunity again with tomorrow’s game in hand.
Apart from replacing Joyce, the manager has hinted he won’t be making many changes as Vale look to build on 19 points from their opening 11 games.
He said: “I think they all performed well, there was nobody who had a bad game. If we’d kept ten men on the pitch and had one or two decisions go for us……especially when we scored a perfectly good third goal, the one that came off Leon, then you go in at 3-0 and it is a completely different game.
“It wasn’t to be. In the last three games we have had three goals disallowed that shouldn’t have been, but hopefully over a season then things will even themselves out.”