Scout report: Newcastle United target and prolific striker could star against Sunderland for Port Vale

Neil Aspin is the man in charge at Port Vale
Neil Aspin is the man in charge at Port Vale
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Sunderland will have to be careful to ensure they are not on the receiving end of an FA Cup shock this weekend.

The Black Cats will travel to Port Vale in the first round of the famous competition, as they enter at the opening stage for the first time in over 30 years.

And Jack Ross will be keen to ensure his side aren't subject to a giant-killing when they make the trip to the League Two outfit.

But what should the Scot expect from the trip to Burslem? We cast our eye over the Valiants in a comprehensive scout report:

What system will Port Vale play?

Port Vale generally line-up in a 5-4-1 formation, with attack-minded wing-backs ensuring the side has a real cutting edge.

Such a system places a great deal of responsibility on the lone striker but, with plenty of reinforcements from midfield, the Valiants look strong going forward.

And at the back, three centre-backs with plenty of lower league experience provide a stable base from which the Valiants can build.

Who are Port Vale's key players?

Tom Pope is the main man for Vale, occupying the lone striker role and taking on the brunt of the club's attacking burden.

It's a role the 33-year-old flourishes in, however, as reflected in his seven-goal tally for the season so far.

Behind him, Louis Dodds and ex-Gateshead man Luke Hannant offer some attacking impetus from midfield - with the latter particularly dangerous from set pieces.

Leon Legge will try and marshal the backline, while Aston Villa loanee and reported Newcastle United target Mitchell Clarke is also one to watch at the back.

Do Port Vale have any injury worries?

Port Vale have no fresh injury worries ahead of the game - meaning they will have a strong squad to choose from for the cup clash.

Who is Port Vale's manager and what can we expect from them?

Neil Aspin is the man at the helm for Port Vale having taken the reigns in 2017, leaving National League side Gateshead.

Aspin enjoyed success with the Heed and has since gone on to turn around the fortunes of a Vale side who were struggling in the fourth tier.

A favourite with supporters too, Aspin enjoyed a spell as a player at Vale Park - and actually scored an own goal during Sunderland's last trip to Burslem.

What form have Port Vale been in?

Vale are unbeaten in their last five games and are enjoying a fine run of form in all competitions - which has seen them rise to 13th in League Two.

Recent victories over Oldham and Bury have proved morale-boosting for Aspin's men, who will be looking to carry their form into this cup clash.

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