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Interviews

Neil Aspin previews Stoke City Under-21 clash

4 December 2018

Port Vale face Stoke City in any format for the first time in just over 16 years this evening, and Neil Aspin is fully focused on gaining qualification to the next round.

Vale boast a perfect record in the Checkatrade Trophy heading into the tie, having won three out of three of their group stage fixtures. Wins over Walsall, Burton Albion and Middlesbrough Under-21s saw the Valiants top their group, and were in-hand granted a home fixture in the round of 32.

One win and two draws saw Stoke City Under-21s claim a second place finish in their group with six points. Penalties were needed in their ties with Sunderland and Carlisle United, and The Potters only came out the victors in the latter fixture, as The Black Cats overcame the young Stoke squad, 4-2 from the spot.

Despite how this fixture has changed over the years, Aspin has claimed it is always a tie that you want to win.

He said: "As a manager, you can talk games up but I always try and be honest, I can't class it as the same level as the time we were playing them in the Championship.

"If you imagine having a derby in the championship now, how high profile that game would be and it would be an absolutely massive game. That was the level we were at in those days.

"Times have changed and they are what they are. Stoke are able to put out an under-21 team where a couple of players or one player could cover all our wage bill for a year, so it's a completely different scenario.

"The one thing you can't take away from it is that it's Port Vale against Stoke City and whenever there's a game between the two teams at any level, you want to come out as the winner."

Aspin has claimed he has 'all options available' ahead of the tie with minimul injury issues.

The boss named a much changed side in Vale's last league outing to Yeovil Town, and it proved succesful as The Valiants ran out 3-0 winners at Huish Park courtesy of goals from Cristian Montano and Connell Rawlinson.

The gaffer could be set to ring the changes once again as his side welcome their local rivals to Vale Park, but admits it will be difficult to select a starting eleven with plenty of options to pick from.

He said: "The team I played last week, nobody would've picked, so that means therefore last week was a weaker team. I pick a strong team in some people's eyes if I play certain players that they like.

"Or we could play our under-21 team. I've got all options available so you'll have to see tomorrow what team we play.

"Regardless of who we're playing tomorrow, it's a home tie in a competition we're trying to get further on. I think that's the top and bottom of it, of course it becomes more important because of who were playing but the objective is still the same, we want to try and get through and get to the next round."


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