Vale are preparing to face an inform Derby County on Tuesday night for the first time at Vale Park since 1996, with a large crowd expected in Burslem for the highly anticipated fixture.
After the original fixture was postponed earlier in the month due to the Rams’ third-round FA Cup tie with Barnsley, the two sides prepare to face off at Vale Park for the first time in 27 years
The East Midlands side have been in red-hot form recently, winning six of their last seven games in all competitions, in turn climbing up the table to fourth.
However, back in October when we faced Derby at Pride Park, it was the Valiants that came out on top in dramatic fashion, completing a second-half turnaround to secure a historic 2-1 win.
That victory was one of the highlights of Vale’s successful campaign so far, and the Valiants currently sit 13th in League One with a number of games in hand due to postponements.
After our clash with Morecambe was postponed last Saturday, Darrell Clarke will be eager for Vale to come out the traps flying tomorrow, so before kick-off, here is what you need to know about the Rams.
ONE TO WATCH: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
Vale will have to be wary of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing when we face the Rams this week, with the winger ripping up defences on a weekly basis so far this season.
Signing for Deby back in the summer, the 30-year-old has impressed in white so far this campaign, netting five times in the league whilst also notching six assists.
Mendez-Laing started his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, making his senior debut at 19 years old in 2009.
The forward never managed a league appearance for Wolves, and permanent stints at Peterborough United and Rochdale followed before he moved to the Welsh capital to sign for Cardiff City in 2017.
The Birmingham-born player had a successful three years in Wales, playing a crucial part of the side that won promotion to the Premier League in 2018.
During the 2018-19 campaign, Mendez-Laing netted four times in England’s top division, with two of those goals coming in a brilliant 2-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on the final day.
Mendez-Laing left Cardiff in 2020, before moves to Middlesborough, and Sheffield Wednesday, came and went for the winger.
Derby County snapped up the forward in the summer, and Vale will have to keep on their toes if they are to stop him and the Rams from scoring on Tuesday night.
THE MAN AT THE HELM: Paul Warne
The Rams’ main man in the dugout is Paul Warne, who has already visited Vale Park this campaign when his former side Rotherham United knocked us out of the Carabao Cup in August.
Warne was appointed as Derby’s boss towards the end of last September, and what an impact he has made so far, guiding his side up to fourth this month, after the Rams had a shaky start to the season.
County’s gaffer enjoyed a successful playing career before management, which included nine years at the Millers in two spells, and in the first period, he played a part in back-to-back promotions to the Championship.
Playing as a midfielder in his day, Warne also had spells at Yeovil Town and Oldham Athletic during his time in South Yorkshire.
After his playing days were over, he then became a full-time fitness coach when Steve Evans took up the Rotherham hot seat, a role he continued in when Neil Redfearn came in.
In November 2016 Warne’s time in the hot seat came when he became caretaker boss at the Yorkshire club, and then the permanent gaffer in April 2017.
In his time at Rotherham, Warne oversaw both promotions and relegations, but after the Millers’ most recent promotion success, the season started well under his leadership.
After nearly six years in the dugout at Rotherham, Warne was approached by the Rams and saw it as the right time to move on to his second job in management.
Our win against the Rams was Warne’s first home match in charge of the club, and Vale will be looking for a repeat of that result on Tuesday night as County come to town.
HEAD-TO-HEAD LAST FIVE:
Vale wins: 2
Derby wins: 1
Vale have had the better of Derby in their last five meetings, but only one of those matches have been within the last 20 years, with Vale coming out on top at Pride Park back in October.