Vale will be up to speed, warns boss

Fitness check: for Jamie Vardy
Fitness check: for Jamie Vardy

Town face a Port Vale side fresh from its North American tour when the sides meet at the Shay tonight (7.45).

League Two Vale won four out of four across the Atlantic, beating North Sound Sea Wolves 3-1, Tacoma Tide 4-2, Kitsap Pumas 1-0 and Victoria Highlanders 5-0.

Vale had beaten neighbours Stafford Rangers 6-2 and Newcastle Town 1-0 before jetting off and Town boss Neil Aspin is expecting them to provide a major test of his side.

“I noticed they had quite a few games in America so they will be up to speed and their season starts earlier,” he said.

“But there is no point in winning games easily in pre season and not getting tested. That does not do you any good.

“I knew when we organised the four games against Scunthorpe, Mansfield, Port Vale and York that it might be difficult to get results.

“But it is certainly better for preparation than it would be playing teams you are beating easily.

“It is false going into a season winning easily.”

Tonight’s game will be a little strange for Aspin who made almost 350 appearances for Port Vale after leaving Leeds United in the late 1980s.

But while he is looking forward to pitting his wits against the League Two outfit, his main focus remains on getting the Shaymen in shape for an assault on Blue Square Bet North.

“I had 10 years there and this is probably the first time I have faced them since I left,” he said. “It is always nice to play your former clubs, but this is all about getting us into a position that when the season starts we are ready to go.”

Aspin will leave it late before deciding which of the players carrying knocks will play tonight.

Liam Hogan, who left the field before half time on Saturday after taking a bang in the ribs, felt he would be fit to play while Jamie Vardy will also be keen to return after sitting out the weekend game with a groin strain.

Aspin will also have to check the reaction of James Dean and Anton Foster to making their first pre-season appearances against the Stags before naming his side.

Vale boss Micky Adams hopes to be able to include striker Marc Richards tonight after he missed Vale’s final tour match.

“It was touch and go with Marc, but we decided not to risk him because there was no point in aggravating the injury,” said Adams.