Port Vale: Vale's 'HP force' can make a tasty combination, declares hotshot Hughes
LEE Hughes is backing his dynamic double act with strike partner Tom Pope to fire Port Vale to promotion.
The veteran front man made it three goals in as many games with a brace in a 3-0 victory over Accrington Stanley which helped lift the Valiants back to the top of the League Two table.
And with 27-goal Pope at his side, Hughes reckons there is plenty more to come.
"It could be one of the most formidable partnerships in League Two," he declared.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"We've only played together three times and we've scored five goals between us.
"Hopefully that will continue, and I can't see why not.
"Tom's a good lad and a great finisher, and I think we'll score the goals that will get this club promoted.
"He's the top scorer in the league and teams are obviously picking up on that and marking him tightly.
"So hopefully defenders will be worrying about me too and that will give him more space to score even more.
"We've got a good relationship on and off the field, even though we've only played a couple of games together. Hopefully, we'll go on and get better and better."
Hughes's double on Saturday saw him become the first player to score on both his home and away Vale debuts since Akpo Sodje in 1996.
And he's keen to keep up the scoring momentum, starting with tomorrow night's game with rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon.
"At the start of every season, I always aim for 20 goals," he said, "but that's playing every game.
"So I'm looking to keep up a rate of something like one in every two games for Vale if I can. That would mean double figures before the end of the season.
"I've scored at that sort of ratio most of my career, and if I can do it here I would be delighted."
Hughes, aged 36, arrived at Vale Park last month as one of four transfer window signings, but he's already seen enough to convince him promotion is on the cards.
"This squad is definitely strong enough for promotion and we're going for the top two," he added.
"There is so much quality in the dressing room and we've given ourselves such a good chance.
"We've just got to keep working hard on and off the pitch and hopefully the results will come.
"The gaffer has brought in more experience to bolster what was a young squad, and us older ones will pass on our knowledge to the youngsters to help them keep it going.
"The good thing is there are plenty of options in the squad to give the manager a headache.
"There's now someone ready to come into every position and that keeps everyone on their toes."
Struggling Stanley were down to 10 men after only four minutes of Saturday's game when Charlie Barnett was red carded for a rash tackle.
They defended well, but Hughes made the breakthrough after half-time and then rounded it off after defender Darren Purse had scored the second.
"The first half was a bit frustrating, and we needed that first goal," said the striker. "Once we got it, we knew we could kick on and get three points.
"We're going for back-to-back wins against Wimbledon on Tuesday, and there's no reason why we can't get them."
Match action: Pages 42 & 43