Experienced midfielder Danny Pugh started Vale’s reserve game against Walsall on Wednesday.
Pugh, who agreed a permanent move to Vale in the summer, has been out of action since early August. The former Blackpool man picked up a knee injury that was initially expected to rule him out for three months.
His return, six weeks after the injury, is therefore ahead of schedule and could give Vale extra options in central midfield.
Defender Adam Yates was also named in the line-up.