With now under a month to go before the big kick off, we look at the 5 players to keep an eye out for next season in the Port Vale squad, as they look to better last seasons disappointing 18th place finish in League 1.
It is a credit to O’Connor that some Port Vale fans see him signing a new deal as the best piece business by the club in the close season. Northern Ireland International O’Connor showed his class throughout and shone in a poor Port Vale team last season, which was proven when he picked up the clubs Player of the year award and goal of the season. O’Connor gave Vale fans some great memories last year from his sublime free kick away to Coventry, to his vital pressure penalties in a tense end of season game against Preston. Port Vale fans will be hoping there will be more to come from the midfielder this campaign.
The Newcastle United youngster ended his spell on Tyneside this summer and chose to join Port Vale after a successful loan spell last season. The commanding centre half will look to tighten up one of the most leakiest defences in the League, and if a potential deal to bring back former loanee Ryan Inniss to the club from Crystal Palace goes through, Vale could be looking at having one of the brightest centre half pairings in the division.
Having spent 2 recent loan spells at local rivals Crewe Alexandra, Uche Ikpeazu has taken the short 12 mile trip to Burslem and joined Port Vale on loan from Watford for 6 months. This could well be the break through year for the young striker after previously gaining experience in League 1 with loans at Crewe and Doncaster. Ikpeazu will most likely be the focal point in Port Vales attack after the departure of talisman Tom Pope, and a good run of games could see him shine in League 1.
Could this be the year we finally see the real Louis Dodds. After 7 seasons at the club, Dodds has never really been a true out-and-out first team starter and regularly divides opinion between supporters. With Port Vale’s attacking line up looking sparse, this now could be the season and opportunity for Dodds to really shine and show what a good player he can be. A position of just behind the striker is seen as his best position, shown in the partnership between him and Pope in the promotion season of 12/13 and Port Vale will be looking for him to do the same with new loanee Ikpeazu .
Vale fans never really got to see the true potential of Byron Moore last season because of varying degrees of personal problems and injury. He showed Glimpses last season in what a good outlet and player he could be in performances in February and March, and in particularly Doncaster at home where he grabbed an excellent goal before injury cut short his season. With hopefully now a full pre-season under his belt, Port Vale fans will hope Moore could be the dangerous and tricky winger they thought they had last season.