Alex Hurst is available for this weekend’s game at Forest Green Rovers, interim manager Danny Pugh has revealed.
The 21 year old winger was taken off as a precaution in the first half of Tuesday’s game at Sunderland, after suffering a knock on his ankle, but was able to train on Friday to give Pugh a welcome option.
Hurst has arguably been Vale’s most consistent player after earning a regular place in the starting line up over the last five weeks. He started wide on the left, with Dave Worrall on the right, in last Saturday’s 3-0 win at home to Grimsby in Pugh’s first game in charge.
Pugh has also revealed that midfielder Danny Whitehead is out for this weekend after he also suffered an ankle injury in the Sunderland game.
Manny Oyeleke is making progress from injury but won’t be fit for this game. The game might also come just too soon for James Gibbons who is back in training after hamstring surgery.
Captain Leon Legge is serving the second of a two-game ban so Shaun Brisley is set to partner Nathan Smith in central defence.
Pugh should have options both in midfield and up front after strengthening his squad this week.
Midfielder Jake Taylor signed on a permanent deal from Nottingham Forest on Monday and made his debut as a second-half substitute at Sunderland in the 2-0 Trophy defeat.
So, he will compete with captain Tom Conlon, Luke Joyce and Scott Burgess in central midfield.
Vale have lost record goalscorer Tom Pope with a broken arm and shoulder ligament damage suffered in the Sunderland game, but they have brought in striker Kurtis Guthrie who has signed until the end of the season after his contract at Bradford was cancelled by mutual consent.
Pugh made seven changes to the team at Sunderland because he was prioritising this weekend’s game at Forest Green. So, neither David Worrall nor Devante Rodney travelled as they were rested as a precaution after picking up slight knocks.
But the match still proved costly as Whitehead was injured, followed by Pope who was used as 71 st -minute substitute rather than from the start with the Forest Green game in mind.
Pugh added: “Popey won’t be available which is a shame after how well he had done at the weekend.
“After how well he played on Saturday, he was chomping at the bit. We rested him purposely on Tuesday and only brought him on towards the end but unfortunately, towards the end which you can’t prevent, he has taken a nasty fall.”
Mark Cooper’s Forest Green Rovers are up to fourth on a run of one defeat in nine games so this will be a tougher test than weekend’s victory over struggling Grimsby.
Pugh said: “They are a very good footballing side. They know how they want to play, they know their jobs, they are a threat going forward and keep the ball well. It is going to be a good test for us but one I think we are prepared for.”