Since re-joining Vale on loan from West Bromwich Albion back in January, Kyle Howkins has had to be patient to get an opportunity under John Askey, but he is hoping to build on his performance at Northampton Town last weekend.
The 22-year-old was introduced as a substitute following Leon Legge's red card during the first half at the PTS Academy Stadium, and he impressed on his first appearance of the season as the Valiants ran out as 2-1 victors despite the one-man disadvantage.
Although he admits that the performance of the team is the most important thing as they look for safety in Sky Bet League Two, Howkins is determined to take his chance and hold down his place in the defence for the remainder of the season.
He said: "It's been frustrating because I came here in January to play, but I've had to bide my time before getting 45 minutes at Northampton - hopefully I get the chance to impress on Saturday.
"Everyone wants to play football and you don't just want to be training, but you just have to keep on top of things and remain focused because you never know when your chance may come. You have to be prepared for it so you can take it.
"The team has been doing well so the gaffer said to me that he couldn't change things too much, but that was fair enough as it's a team game and it's not all about me. The most important thing is the club and the lads have got some decent results recently."
Due to injury problems whilst back with his parent club, the defender hasn't featured too often during the last year and that has been very difficult for Howkins to deal with as a player looking to forge a career in the game.
Remarkably, Saturday's win marked almost 12 months since he last made an appearance in the Football League, and that came as Vale fell to a home defeat to Carlisle United back in April 2018.
He also featured in the away fixture at Crewe Alexandra last season, and having experienced the rivalry between the two sides, he is looking forward to the clash against the Railwaymen this weekend.
He said: "Surprisingly, it had been about a year since I last played so it was good to be back out there in front of the fans - I'm looking forward to Saturday if I'm selected by the gaffer.
"Nathan Smith and Leon Legge have been solid to be fair to them, so that was one of the reasons the manager wouldn't change it, but Leggey's sending off has paved the way for me.
"I played in the game against Crewe last year so I know what it's all about, but it will be a good game to play in. It was mental in terms of the support last time."