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Team news and views from Neil Cox ahead of Port Vale home clash

23 September 2021

First team manager Neil Cox is looking for his side to build on last week’s 2-2 draw at Carlisle United following another positive week on the training ground.

While the result ended in a disappointing fashion, conceding a late equaliser, the United boss has been keen to draw the positives and take them into the latest encounter.

“Training has been excellent and we’ve taken the positivity forward from the first 70 minutes of last week,” he said, talking to iFollow Iron.

“That’s the intensity and aggression we have to produce. We’re never going to be on top for 90 minutes, and we know that. We just have to make sure that we defend well when we are under pressure as a team.

“When we look back, we had two or three more opportunities to score a third. We created a few chances, and we have to keep doing that.”

The side bounced back last weekend in their latest game, but will have to issue a repeat on home soil to rectify the 4-0 defeat to Exeter a fortnight ago.

“We let ourselves down against Exeter, but we turned up last week,” he continued.

“We were disappointed not to win the game, but there were a lot of positives. Now we’ve got a home game against a good Port Vale side. It’s going to be tough, but we have to put our stamp on it and play the way we want to play.

“Supporters will back you if have a go, and I know the 176 that travelled last week saw us have a right go, even though they’d have been disappointed at the end. They saw a lot of improvement in one week.”

Both captain Harry Davis and forward Ryan Loft are edging closer to a return after their respective injuries, while Lewis Thompson returns to contention following a dead leg.

Davis missed out last weekend after suffering a head injury against Exeter two weeks ago, while Loft was withdrawn away at Rochdale after his own facial injury.

“It’s good to see Lofty back on the training pitch this morning,” he stated.

“He’s unrecognisable with a mask on, but he’s trained fully which is really good. He’s still a bit off. He’s done a lot of fitness work, but we have to make sure he trains properly with this mask on.

“Harry Davis is back in the building after having the stitches removed from his forehead, so hopefully he can train fully on Friday. He’s managed to do some running, but we have to make sure that the wound is fully healed. He has to be 100 per cent fit before he comes into the squad.

“Thommo is back from a dead leg, which is good news. It’s a bit more experience coming back to make the squad stronger, and it makes every train really hard to even get on the bench, which was my aim at the start of the season.”

Elsewhere, both Harry Bunn and Alex Kenyon will be absent this weekend as they continue to build up their fitness levels.

“Harry is still going to be missing. He can still feel his hamstring, but it’s not a major one, just a little bit tight. We have to be careful with him, and we are taking our time with him.

“Alex can still feel his thigh, so he will miss this weekend, and hopefully we can step up his training next week.”

Finally, there were minutes for first year professionals Cameron Wilson and Dan Gallimore in the goalless Youth Alliance League draw at Grimsby Town last weekend.

“Cam and Gally both played in the Under-19s league last week to get some minutes,” he added.

“Cam has missed a few days through illness, so it’s been good to see him back in the building. He’s another that will come back into the squad if he can get through training tomorrow and is feeling fine.”

See the full interviews with Neil Cox and Aaron Jarvis on iFollow Iron.

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