Port Vale will be forced into a change in central defence after first-choice Clayton McDonald was declared a “doubt” for the FA Cup game against Sheffield United.
McDonald was replaced by new signing Liam Chilvers during Vale’s 3-1 win over Aldershot at the weekend.
But Vale’s deadline day defensive signing is ineligible for the cup tie, having played for AFC Telford United in the qualifying matches.
It is likely that rookie Joe Davis will get the nod to partner John McCombe, although the more experienced Gareth Owen is also recovering from injury.
Both Davis and Owen have been omitted from Vale’s reserve side to face Shrewsbury and that would suggest that Davis is in pole position to replace McDonald.
The lack of reserve team action will mean Owen will have had no match time since being injured against Northampton Town.
Owen only lasted 45 minutes of that game after he was rushed back to action after a similar defensive crisis.
Owen appeared to have returned from injury too quickly and Vale’s backroom staff may now be keen to ease him slowly back to full fitness and not risk a similar breakdown in a crucial cup match.
Assistant manager Mark Grew told the official Port Vale website: “Luckily Gareth Owen is now back in training so hopefully he will be available. So we have got cover with Gareth and of course Joe Davis is also available to us, so one way or another we have the position covered.”