Port Vale: Valiants set to make room for Loft ahead of Sheffield trip
SKIPPER Doug Loft is expected to be fit for Vale’s big FA Cup clash at Sheffield United next weekend.
The versatile midfielder returned to training on Thursday, but Vale are being careful not to rush him back too quickly this time.
Loft returned from the calf injury he picked up at Exeter on October 6 when he started on the bench in the cup clash at Forest Green a month later.
Though he figured in the next game at home to Rochdale, he was forced off early with a recurrence of the problem.
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Coach Rob Page is keen to make sure Loft is spot on this time before he’s thrown back into action.
It looks, therefore, as if he’ll miss today’s game at Aldershot, but will target the second-round tie at Bramall Lane next Saturday instead.
“Lofty trained well, but with players like him, you have to rein them in,” said Page.
“He’s looking fit and sharp, but we’re making sure he takes small steps forward, and it’s more likely to be next week.”
Midfielder Sam Morsy returns to the squad following suspension, leaving centre-half Gareth Owen as the only other absentee for the trip to the EBB Stadium.
He’s nearing full fitness once more after a dead leg picked up at Northampton.
Aldershot are struggling at the wrong end of League Two, with just one win at home all season, but Page isn’t expecting an easy ride and says Vale certainly won’t alter their approach.
“Our preparation for games doesn’t change whoever we’re playing,” he said.
“They’re coming off the back of a great result in midweek (a 1-0 win at Burton), but they’ve been inconsistent.
“Knowing Dean Holdsworth as I do, he’ll be doing his utmost to get them back to winning ways and we can’t go into any game lightly.
“Teams are beating each other at the top and bottom and we have to prepare like we would for any other game.”
Page was delighted to see Vale get back to winning ways on Tuesday after a run of five league games without a win.
“Before the game, we sat the players down and the gaffer gave them a little reminder of what has got us to where we are,” he said.
“Thankfully, they went out and sort of answered him with a 4-0 win.
“But that’s what we’re all about – hard work and playing to our strengths.
“To be successful, you have to do the same thing against teams both at the top and the bottom, be consistent week in, week out and if you do that, then ultimately you’ll achieve what you want.”