Nearly man 14: Dan Westwood

Released from the Port Vale youth set-up the striker has proven to be prolific in non-league and is now being scouted by Premier League sides…

This occasional series profiles players that nearly signed for Vale only for the move to never take place… this one is slightly different as the player was on Vale’s books only to be released.

Ray Kennedy, who won every domestic honour in the game, tops the list of players mistakenly released by Port Vale without playing a game. Kennedy was released at 16 but went to play lengthy spells for Arsenal and Liverpool and win England caps.

Westwood has 101 goals in 72 games albeit only at the tenth tier of football – the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division…

The Valiants will be hoping the same isn’t true of Dan Westwood. He was also released during his teens by the Valiants and has gone to be become one of non-league’s most prolific forwards.

Westwood has 101 goals in 72 games albeit only at the tenth tier of football – the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division. Nevertheless, with that sort of scoring record could the forward play at a higher level? Perhaps? The Guardian reports that Premier League clubs are now monitoring the striker. It certainly wouldn’t be without precedent – Jamie Vardy and Andre Gray both reached the top flight after spells in non-league.

Maybe Westwood has found his natural level and Vale were right to release him but we’ll have to wait and see. Whatever happens, Westwood has not let his release affect him and is enjoying himself. He told the Guardian: “The defenders would be a lot better but then so would the service. I’d never say ‘I can’t play at that level’ until I actually try. If it doesn’t work out, I can take that on the chin. It might be that this level is right for me, but I want to find out. I want to go as high as I can.”

For more information on Westwood, here is an article by the Guardian.