Port Vale v Preston preview

Date published: Thursday 16th April 2015 4:22

Antonio Conte: Manager impressed by display

Leading scorer Tom Pope is set to return to the Port Vale squad for their home game against automatic promotion hopefuls Preston.

Pope missed the midweek draw at Scunthorpe with a virus but was able to train on Thursday and will give Valiants boss Rob Page a welcome option. However, the 11-goal striker is likely to begin on the bench because he is nursing an ankle problem.

Byron Moore is edging closer to a return but Saturday could be too soon for the winger. Moore has been out since suffering a groin injury against Sheffield United on March 21.

On-loan Everton midfielder Francisco Junior is struggling to recover from a hamstring problem.

Second-placed Preston will hand late fitness tests to Jermaine Beckford and Scott Laird at Vale Park.

Striker Beckford was withdrawn in the 2-2 draw with Gillingham on Tuesday after scoring his 10th goal in his past 19 appearances having picked up an ankle injury while full-back Laird also came off with a problem.

Defender Paul Huntington is back in training following a head and back injury sustained against Fleetwood last month and his return to North End’s squad is imminent.

The Gills’ late equaliser meant North End’s advantage in the final automatic spot was trimmed to three points but they can put six points between themselves and MK Dons ahead of their home game with Leyton Orient on Saturday.

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