Port Vale’s Jake Taylor will be a stronger player for the experience of a frustrating year.
That’s the verdict of Taylor’s agent, the Vale legend Phil Sproson who is hoping the 22-year-old midfielder will get plenty of opportunity to show what he can do next season.
Taylor signed a three-and-a-half year deal to join the Vale from Nottingham Forest in January but then only started three games following Darrell Clarke’s appointment in February.
That continued a season spent largely on the sidelines for Taylor who was at Scunthorpe for the first half of the campaign but had to isolate after testing positive for Covid and only started nine games for them.
But Taylor had shown his ability the previous season when he scored seven goals in 25 appearances on loan at Vale.
Sproson, who played 500 games for the Vale, said: “I just hope he gets the opportunity to prove what a good player he is. The Vale fans know what a good player he is and what he is capable of.”
Vale fought off offers from two other league clubs to sign Taylor in January on a deal that includes a large sell-on percentage to Nottingham Forest.
Sproson added: “Jake wanted to finish off what he had started at Vale so I told the other two clubs, ‘thanks for the interest but his heart is in going to Vale’.
“But, like any player, he has to have a good pre-season and then see what develops. He has the ability, I don’t think anyone is saying otherwise.
“He has the ability to play higher which is why Forest did what they did with regards to letting him go and putting in a sell-on clause. That’s because they firmly believe that, as he gets a little older and develops, he will go higher up the chain.
“I certainly think he has it in him to play higher, but talk is cheap, he has to show it on the pitch.
“He just needs to recapture the form he had when he first came on loan. It’s in him, it’s up to Jake and the people around him to give him the belief to pull him forward again.”
He added: “I have said to him, ‘you had a great spell at Vale, scored all your goals and got the accolades, but this year has been a very difficult season because you have played in two sides that have struggled to find their own way. You have had the upheaval of going to a club that has changed its manager and he has wanted to change the system and look at all players. Then you have had a little run in the side and been left out’.
“I said all this is part of what goes on in a professional’s life. But he will be a better footballer with that experience because, when the good times come again, he will appreciate them.
Sproson also represents defenders Adam Crookes and Shaun Brisley who were among the 15 out-of-contract players released by the Vale at the end of the season.
He says Crookes was ready to move on after finding himself out of the side but Brisley was disappointed not to be offered a deal having been a regular in the team that won eight games out of nine to pull clear of relegation trouble.
Sproson added: “Shaun thought he had done enough. He is experienced and is different in style to what they have got, but obviously the manager has made a decision and that’s it. Shaun spoke to me virtually after he had walked out of the door.
“The bonus point for him is he has played in a side that has had its best run of form, and he was a very big part of that. There was even the fact the manager singled him out in a couple of games and said he was outstanding.
“So, people will know he can still do a job. That makes my life easier because I can say, ‘look at his form.”