John Askey’s summer squad balancing act pays dividends for Port Vale during injury crisis

Rob Fielding says that the manager recruited wisely over the summer months – and that is demonstrated by the club’s recent form.

Rob Fielding writes…

Should all the Port Vale squad be fit there would be some fascinating questions for manager John Askey to address…

  • Would Manny Oyeleke force his way past emerging duo Scott Burgess and Jake Taylor?
  • Which of Cristian Montano, David Worrall, David Amoo and Rhys Browne would be used as the pace and width upfront?
  • Would Shaun Brisley be able to challenge Nathan Smith and Leon Legge?
  • Which of Jordan Archer, Richie Bennett, Tom Pope and Mark Cullen would start upfront?

Unfortunately due to the current injury list, the answers to these questions will have to wait for another day.

Askey’s side looks much better balanced than those produced by predecessors Neil Aspin and Michael Brown…

However, a record of two draws and two wins in the last five games shows that John Askey established a resilient squad in the summer – one that is able to shrug off injuries to key players and still produce results.

Askey’s side looks much better balanced than those produced by predecessors Neil Aspin and Michael Brown. Rather than heavy reliance on Tom Pope, goals have been shared around attack, midfield and defence so far this season.

There’s an experienced spine to Askey’s side – Scott Brown, Leon Legge, Luke Joyce, Tom Pope – but there’s also a number of highly promising youngsters – James Gibbons, Nathan Smith, Scott Burgess – who could get better over time. Two of those young guns are local lads who have progressed through the youth ranks, showing the value of the Vale’s development squads.

It’s doubtful that last season’s squad would have coped with an injury list containing six first-teamers so the fact that Askey’s has done so will give Vale hope for the remainder of the season. Admittedly, there’s an awful lot of the season still to play but right now all the armchair managers who criticised the worth of Askey’s summer additions must be eating their words.

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