Until last week, Vale Park didn't have a safety certificate and home friendly games were set to be played behind closed doors, and, to make matters worse, they'd only a handful of registered players and that, at times, didn't seem to be set to improve.
The problem is, they are in administration and preferred buyer Keith Ryder has failed to come up with the promised £1.3 million. It meant work couldn't be done on the ground and it also left out of contract players, and new signings, unwilling to commit.
|Jason Shackell - We want to be in the next round|
Things took an upturn at the end of last week. Work, much of it carried out by supporters, was completed to enable them to allow the public in for the friendly against Tranmere. There were no refreshment facilities but at least people could watch the game. Full facilities are expected tonight.
On Saturday morning, 18 players were sat there without contracts and concerns grew when David Artell, a summer capture from Crewe, said no. Yesterday, he signed for Northampton. Thankfully, for Vale, the rest of them signed and Micky Adams does have a virtually full squad to select from tonight.
There are still restrictions, and rightly so for a club remaining in administration. Further signings have had to be put onto the back burner including that of Liam Dickinson who has been with them through the pre-season. Right now though they'll just be happy to have a game to play and be able to play it.
Adams will be without Gareth Evans. The influential defender who signed from Stockport in late 2008. He suffered an injury in their drawn friendly against Tranmere on Saturday.
The rest of the squad are available and the likely line up for Port Vale is: Chris Neal, Richard Duffy, John McCombe, Joe Davis, Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Sam Morsy, Chris Shuker, Ashley Vincent, Ben Williamson, Tom Pope. Subs from: Adam Yates, Rob Taylor, Darren Murphy, Louis Dodds, Sam Johnson, Clayton McDonald, Lewis Haldane, Kingsley James, Ryan Lloyd, Ryan Burge.
One of those names should be familiar to Burnley fans, that of Richard Duffy. He was with us on loan during the 2004/05 season from Portsmouth, and memorably scored the winner at Leeds that season. He will make his competitive debut for Vale tonight.
Also in their line up is Joe Davis. Burnley born Joe is the younger brother of Crewe's Harry Davis and son of former Claret Steve Davis, now manager at Crewe.
For Eddie Howe tonight it is a case of counting those players ruled out. Danny Lafferty, Martin Paterson and Sam Vokes are all away on international duty. They should have been joined by Keith Treacy but he's had to withdraw through injury and now joins both Marvin Bartley and Danny Ings in sitting out the start of the season.
For Ings, the inevitable bad news was confirmed yesterday. It's cartilage damage again and he'll be ruled out for a few months. He started last season at Bournemouth and played in their opening league game at Charlton before transferring to Burnley.
He suffered a similar injury in training and had to wait until February of this year to make his Clarets' debut in the home win against Barnsley, coming on as a substitute for Charlie Austin who is now the only one of our four main strikers available.
One thing for certain is that new captain Jason Shackell will lead the Clarets out for the first time in a competitive game. "It's our first competitive game and it's a massive one," he said today.
"We want to be in the next round of the cup and we have prepared for the start of the season tonight and we are ready to go. It's huge. There have been some tricky ties over the weekend for a lot of the clubs and it's going to be another hard game for us.
"If we are not mentally and physically right then we will be in danger. Whenever you play a team in a league below it's never an easy game. They are always tough. There's not that big a margin between the leagues and so it will be a tough game, especially if we're not right, which we showed last week at Rochdale."
There have been no clues to the team and pre-season hasn't given any with different formations tried. However, with Brian Stock having signed and set to make a debut we could start with a 4-3-3 system.
We could line up: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, David Edgar, Jason Shackell, Joseph Mills, Brian Stock, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Junior Stanislas, Charlie Austin, Ross Wallace. Subs from: Brian Jensen, Luke O'Neill, Michael Duff, Kevin Long, Ben Mee, Steven Hewitt, George Porter, Alex MacDonald, Shay McCartan.
Last Time We Were There
Tonight will be the first time the two teams have met in a League Cup tie but we have met on four occasions in the FA Cup, most recently in 2011.
We've twice travelled to Vale Park in the FA Cup, in 1976/77 and, for a replay, in 1980/81. Both have ended in defeat.
The last of those, a second round tie in 1980/81 season came after Eric Potts had scored in a 1-1 draw at the Turf. It turned out to be a shocking night for us in the replay when we were outdone by Mark (dad of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Neville Chamberlain.
We simply couldn't handle their pace that night and they were 2-0 up with only 18 minutes gone. Not once did we threaten to get back into the game and in the end it was an easy win for Vale.
Our team that night was: Alan Stevenson, Brian Laws, David Holt, Derek Scott, Vince Overson, Martin Dobson, Tommy Cassidy, Eric Potts, Billy Hamilton, Steve Taylor (Kevin Young), Phil Cavener.
Previous Games against Port Vale
|Last 20 Years|
|1993/94||Division 2||h||2-1||12,594||Joyce (2)|
|1994/95||Division 1||h||4-3||10,058||Nogan, Randall, Shaw, Sandeman (og)|
|2010/11||FA Cup||h||4-2||11,136||Carlisle, Mears, Eagles, Alexander(pen)|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Port Vale