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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Port Vale season preview
Having seen the team that won the LDV Vans Trophy just two years ago broken up by the financial problems that have beset the club, Vale are rebuilding.

With their transfer embargo lifted by the League, the Valiants have brought in George Pilkington and Andreas Lipa.

Adrian Littlejohn has been handed a one-year deal, and the Valiants will be hoping he, Steve McPhee and Steve Brooker can get among the goals.

Sam Collins has returned from injury and Michael Walsh is not far behind.

After months of uncertainty, supporters will be hoping new owners Valiant 2001 can now take the club forward after a protracted spell in the doldrums.

"There are tough times ahead but the directors are all committed to Port Vale," said chairman Bill Bratt.

"If we fail it won't be for the lack of trying," he told BBC Radio Stoke.

"It was imperative we got control when Vale went into administration as there was a feeling Vale Park would lose its status as a football ground."

Manager Brian Horton says he is feeling his usual pre-season excitement as Vale try to kick-start a new era.

"When every new season comes around it brings great excitement to me," he told BBC Radio Stoke. "If we can get our best 11 players out regularly we are well capable of having a good season," he insisted.

Summer signing Pilkington, who has come from Everton, said: "I know the club has the ambition to go forward and hopefully I'll play my part in that."

There will be a spirit of optimism at Vale Park, with a fan-led takeover completed and transfer embargo lifted.

But an ordinary pre-season summer, with poor results at Lincoln and neighbours Crewe, suggests life for Vale fans may get worse before it gets better.


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