Ahead of Tuesday's game at home to Port Vale, we spoke to Mike Baggaley of the Sentinel Newspaper and Stoke-on-Trent-Live about all things Valiants...
- What's the verdict on how Port Vale have started the season?
"Had you asked me that three games ago, I would have said Vale had been very impressive. Vale went into the home game with Tranmere on 14th November looking to challenge the top three, but they blew a 2-0 lead to lose 4-3 after influential midfielder Luke Joyce was sent off.
"They followed that with a poor midweek performance to lose 1-0 at home to Scunthorpe and then were beaten by Kevin Ellison’s 96th minute goal at Newport on Saturday, after having captain Leon Legge red-carded.
"So, it’s been a pretty miserable week. That said, Vale are ninth and only a point outside the play-off places so it’s not all doom and gloom."
- Under the new owners and current manager, there seems to be more positiveity around the place than in previous seasons - is that fair?
"Absolutely. The club has made progress on and off the pitch since manager John Askey was appointed, in February 2019, followed by Carol and Kevin Shanahan buying the club three months later.
"Vale were in a relegation battle for the third successive season when Askey was appointed but he steered the club to safety then led them to eighth when the 2019/20 season was cut short.
"Meanwhile, the Shanahans are hugely popular with supporters and have made great strides in helping both the club and the community. When the country went into lockdown they formed a community hub at the football ground which has now delivered more than 180,000 meals to people in North Staffordshire."
- How has former Stevenage player Tom Conlon been playing recently?
"He has done really well since probably the middle of last season to establish himself in the first team. He’s comfortable on the ball and can pick out a great pass with that left foot but he was guilty of dropping a bit too deep at times.
"John Askey has encouraged him to get forward more in Vale’s midfield three and that is paying off. That said, he may be a doubt for this game after suffering an Achilles injury at Newport on Saturday."
- Who is Port Vale's stand out player so far this season?
"Keeper Scott Brown is into his third season since signing from Wycombe and, without wishing to tempt fate, I can hardly remember him having a bad game. The experienced former Cheltenham and Aberdeen keeper was Vale’s player of the year in his first season and I am sure will be in contention again this time."
- Finally, what's your score prediction for the game?
"I will go for Vale to get back on track by nicking a 1-0 win."