Rob Page said that striker Tom Pope is not 100% after his injury and his performances in training persuaded him to drop him in favour of Ben Williamson.
The decision to drop Pope was the most controversial of four Vale changes as they slipped to an awful home defeat against Colchester and Page told the media: “Popey’s not right at the minute. He’s not been right since his injury and is carrying a couple of other knocks that doesn’t convince you through the week. So, you have to go with what you think is going to win this game of football for the club, the fans and the team.
Irrespective of who you are or what position, I am not going to play you if you are not 100 per cent…
“It’s not about any individual, and that is not saying anything about Tom Pope. Irrespective of who you are or what position, I am not going to play you if you are not 100 per cent. At this stage of the season we can’t afford to carry any players, that’s as simple as it is.
“Instead I went with Ben Williamson and Louis Dodds. When I first took over when Tom was injured, they struck up a great partnership and we were scoring goals at home and away. So, I thought we would get back to that with Willo’s pace and Doddsy’s clever movement.
“I thought Doddsy was outstanding here and Willo worked really hard but we need to be clinical in front of goal.”