Port Vale: Tom Pope will soon be back among goals, says Mark Grew
TOM Pope is being tipped to rediscover his scoring touch as Port Vale bid to press home their promotion advantage.
The 27-goal striker has failed to find the net in his last five outings, which is his longest barren spell this season.
But assistant boss Mark Grew is backing Pope to end his mini-drought at home to Exeter tonight (7.45pm).
"We knew Tom would go through a period where his goals dried up," said Grew.
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"He's disappointed he hasn't scored in a while, but it will happen for him, I'm sure of it.
"If he keeps getting into the box, which he's doing, things will change again for him very quickly."
Pope's last goal came in the 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon at the end of January.
But Grew says the management remain happy with the 27-year-old's overall play, which has helped second-placed Vale establish an eight-point gap to the play-off places.
"We're not putting any pressure on Tom because his contribution in other areas has been top drawer," added Grew.
"It's about what you do for the team and you can't fault his work rate.
"Forwards often hit hot patches and then go cold for a while. Sometimes the luck doesn't go for you either.
"Earlier in the season he would hit a shot and it would sneak in and lately it hasn't.
"But if he keeps getting into the right positions, he'll be scoring again soon."
Vale will check on the fitness of striker Lee Hughes ahead of tonight's game after he missed Saturday's 1-0 win at Torquay because of illness.
He trained yesterday, but the Valiants will make a late call over his involvement.
"Lee has hardly eaten in the last two or three days, so he's touch and go," added Grew.
"But Calvin Andrew scored a goal at the weekend and his confidence will be up."
Striker Ben Williamson (illness) returns, but defender Liam Chilvers (hamstring) and keeper Sam Johnson (thumb) are out.