David Flitcroft wrapped up his landmark singing early on in the window by signing of 29-year-old striker Tom Pope. Pope was the difference between Port Vale staving off relegation and plummeting back to League Two last season with 12 goals in all competitions, but under Flitcroft he will hope to have one final push for the Championship before he turns. He is likely to be paired with last season’s top scorer Daniel Nardiello if plans do not falter; but should they, Leon Clarke will be waiting in the wings to line up for he 18th professional club. The former Vale captain spent 4 years at Vale park scoring 69 goals in 135 games but was often head and shoulders above his team-mates, leading to his eventual departure. He will offer the goalscoring know-how of a seasoned striker, while still maintaining all the necessary skills to be the top marksman in the division.
One to Watch
After finding himself caught up in off the field situations during his time at Barnsley, Jacob Mellis has failed to find his feet I the second tier of English football. He will hope to restructure his career after a disappointing season with Blackpool where he scored one solitary goal in 13 appearances, while his team were relegated to League One. The artistic midfielder was released from Bloomfield Road in the summer and was immediately snapped up by former Barnsley colleague David Flitcroft, who evidently sees potential in the former Chelsea youngster.
Flitcroft will have to show guile and creativity in the transfer market, while still bringing in experienced, proven players that have the attributes to compete at League One level. Their record at Gigg Lane could be the tide turner in terms of where about they finish in the table. Failure to make it a fortress and a place to be feared could result in them having a slog to stay clear of the dreaded drop zone. Bury piped Southend United and Wycombe Wanderers to the automatic promotion spots but in my opinion did not draw enough games. It’s alright going for the victory but letting easy points go will be much more valuable in the third tier. Their defence will need bolstering as they look extremely fragile in the central defensive places. Nathan Cameron will again captain the side, but will need a physical defender to do the dirty work.