Opposition view - Port Vale v Colchester United

JOHN McGreal has been praised by his former coach Dave Kevan ahead of Colchester United's trip to Port Vale today.

Kevan, who is assistant manager at Vale, was also a number two at Burnley during McGreal's playing days at Turf Moor.

U's boss McGreal takes his side to Vale Park, with both sides chasing a top-seven finish in League Two this season.

And Kevan, who is John Askey's assistant at Vale, has been impressed by the job his former defender has done at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Kevan said: "I was the assistant manager at Burnley and John was our centre-back there.

"He is a good lad and he was an excellent player.

"I think he has done a great job. They have a policy of producing young players and maybe moving one or two on.

"I think they have done that very well. They have obviously invested in their academy and they have reaped the benefits of that.

"John is doing a superb job and it will be good to see him.

"They (Colchester) are a very good side having a tremendous season.

"They have a good way of playing and some dangerous players. So we know it is going to be a tough test.

"It was a good result for Grimsby, but it was only the week before that Colchester bean Plymouth 3-0.

"They are a strong side so we have to be at our best.”

Colchester are the only team currently residing above Vale in the table who they have not failed to beat this season, although their win over Cheltenham did come in the FA Cup.

The U's played out a 1-1 draw with Vale on the opening day of the season.

Kevan added: “Over and over again, from Day One going to Colchester and coming away with a hard-earned draw.

"So, right from the kick off we have tried to instil in them – ‘look, we are a match if we are on our game and at it.’ "As soon as we come off that then we have got problems.

“But if our attitude and our approach is right, then we are capable of giving anyone a game.”

Vale are without their post-war record scorer Tom Pope and also versatile right/left-back Mitch Clark today.

They are banned after the duo were sent off at Forest Green in midweek.

Regular right-back James Gibbons is also out serving the second of a two-game ban.

Midfielder Will Atkinson is likely to come in at right-back, with either Richie Bennett or Mark Cullen replacing Pope as the central striker in Vale's 4-3-3 formation.