Port Vale: We fear no-one, says in-form Tom Pope ahead of Gillingham clash
STRIKER Tom Pope says Port Vale will go into Saturday's tasty clash against leaders Gillingham believing they can beat anybody.
The 27-year-old front man says the team are full of confidence after a superb start to the season and insists the unbeaten Kent outfit – who have won six and drawn one of their seven games – are in for a tough afternoon at Vale Park.
Pope is expecting a difficult game, but maintains second-placed Vale's exciting early form means they'll approach it without fear.
"Gillingham are flying high at the moment, but we believe if we play as well as we can, we can beat any team in this division," he said.
"We've proved we've got all the credentials, the right players, the fitness and the mentality and we'll have a real go at them.
"They are the leaders, but we're the top scorers in the country, so we'll back ourselves and attack them like we've attacked everyone else. It could be a great game."
Two goals in Tuesday night's thrilling 5-2 win at big-spending Fleetwood Town took Pope's personal tally to eight so far and underlined the fact he is one of the best strikers in the division at the moment.
That's some turnaround from last year, when he netted just five times all season... and he's putting his exciting new form down to renewed confidence.
"I've been delighted with my start to the season," he added.
"When you're feeling good and the team's playing well, then everything seems to hit the back of the net.
"Last season, the two chances I had at Fleetwood would probably have flown over the stand or something and, of course, it's a confidence issue, especially with strikers.
"I've had a few injuries in the past and a long run when I wasn't scoring, and the longer you go without a goal the harder it gets.
"You start snatching at things because you're desperate to do well.
"But I've always believed I can be as good as any centre-forward in this division. People were maybe laughing at that last season, but I think I'm now proving I can be a real force as long as I keep getting the chances.
"The gaffer has got me as fit and sharp as I can possibly be and that's showing in my game."
Pope is relishing his role in Vale's four-pronged attack, alongside strike partner Louis Dodds and wingers Jennison Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent, but he's refusing to predict a promotion push just yet.
"The front four look like they have played together for years," he said.
"Me and Doddsy have been scoring, while Ash and Jennison are ripping teams apart.
"We're firing on all cylinders, but we won't get complacent or arrogant about it.
"We're delighted with the start we've made, but there's a long way to go and we're not getting too excited.
"We'll keep going and probably have a look at it at Christmas time. If we're still up towards the top of the table, then who knows?"