Port Vale have undoubtedly been the surprise package in League One so far this season with their victory on Sunday afternoon against MK Dons lifting them up to fourth place in the table.
This summer saw a complete overhaul of the club with the appointment of little known Portuguese manager Bruno Ribiero and the addition of fourteen new signings during the transfer window. This included a host of foreign imports from across Europe, a handful of experienced British players, and a smattering of untried, untested young loanees.
Very few people outside Burslem were expecting anything substantial from The Valiant’s this year, indeed many supporters themselves feared the worst following their club’s unique turnover of personnel during the close season, and yet Ribiero has his side competing for promotion having made an extremely promising start to the campaign.
Many of the fourteen new players that walked into Vale Park during the summer have settled quickly and hit the ground running, none more so than 22-year-old forward Alex Jones.
Jones, from Solihull, came through the ranks of the West Brom Albion academy before signing a two-year deal with Birmingham City in 2015 following a successful trial. However, his playing opportunities for The Championship side have been limited and on August 12th he joined Port Vale on a five-month loan.
His signing has been an inspired piece of business by Riberio and the forward marked his full debut by scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Scunthorpe United. Jones has since gone on to find the net five more times this season and currently sits in second position in the League One goal scoring table despite playing over 300 minutes less than many of his peers.
The 22 year old, who has played much of the season as a wide player in a front three but who is also effective in a central role, is enjoying his time at Vale Park and told the Staffordshire Sentinel:
“I am loving every minute of it. I can’t thank everyone enough for the opportunity I have been given. The lads are great and the gaffer is great. I am loving my time here. I am here on loan so I want to give 110% every game and do what I can to help the team climb the table.”
The Valiant’s will be keen to keep hold of their leading goal scorer and retaining the services of the 22-year-old beyond January will be key if Vale are to maintain their promotion push. However, Jones appears to have taken his rise to prominence in his stride.
“I am just taking every game as it comes. All that sort of stuff will get sorted out behind closed doors but I am loving my time here and long may it continue.”