Home-grown talent Lloyd says he's ready for first-team action
R YAN Lloyd has a hard act to follow if he's handed his first professional start today.
But the youngster is desperate to be given the chance.
Flying winger Ashley Vincent has been in sparkling form since his summer arrival, but his one-match ban has created a vacancy on the left of midfield and Lloyd is one of the options for boss Micky Adams ahead of today's game against York City.
The 18-year-old, from Biddulph, has featured four times from the bench this season and, though he has yet to start a league game, Lloyd says he'll be ready if the call comes.
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"It's exciting to think I could get an opportunity to make my first start for the club," he said, "it would mean a lot.
"I've grown up at Vale Park and playing for the first team is what I've been working towards over all those years. It's what you aim for.
"I'd have big boots to fill because Ashley's shown he's a great player.
"He has lots of pace, the ability to go past players and put a good delivery in and he's also a finisher, so we'll probably miss him.
"But I've done all right when I've come on as a substitute this season and hopefully I'll get my big chance."
Lloyd, who has featured at various age groups with the Valiants since he was just eight, is keen to follow in the footsteps of fellow youngsters Joe Davis and Sam Johnson, who have both made big impacts this season. Davis has stepped in to play a key role in central defence at times and Johnson was the star of the show in Vale's memorable Johnstone's Paint Trophy win at Walsall last month.
"They both did really well when they got their chance and hopefully I can do the same," said Lloyd.
"I'm definitely ready if that's what the gaffer wants, but he's said nothing to me about it this week and there have been no hints.
"The team is always revealed at the last minute, so all I can do is keep my fingers crossed.
"Both our wingers have done really well this season and both have contributed goals too. We just need to keep it going and, hopefully, I can help in that."
Lloyd certainly won't be short on effort if he is given the nod today and insists he'd feel no pressure.
"I wouldn't stop running," he said. "I'd be looking to play my own game, get some good crosses in, set other players up and maybe even score a goal. I just want to do well.
"Tom Pope has been on fire this season and I know if I can put the ball into him with any quality, he'll get on the end of it."
Lloyd, though, is expecting a tough test against a York team who have more than held their own following promotion from the Blue Square Bet Premier last season.
"I watched York the other night in the FA Cup and they're certainly a good side," he said.
"We know what to expect. The gaffer puts a board in the changing room with the opposition's names on it.
"We're able to look at who we're playing against and see what their attributes are."
York and then Bristol Rovers on Tuesday would seem to be two winnable home games, but Lloyd says the Valiants will treat both with respect.
"You can't go into games thinking they're going to roll over and let you beat them," he said. "We've still got to do all the right things.
"We'll work hard and hopefully the quality of our players will shine through in the end."