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For the first time since December 11, Port Vale will be hoping to take to the pitch following postponements against Exeter City and Harrogate Town due to coronavirus.

Darrell Clarke has had to contend with several COVID-19-related issues in recent weeks, but the 44-year-old head coach claimed in his pre-match press conference that he and his team will be as well prepared as they can be to try to cause an FA Cup upset this weekend.

Vale have already beaten two teams in higher divisions to set up their third-round clash with Brentford; an impressive 5-1 first-round victory at home against League One side Accrington Stanley in November was followed by a 2-1 away win at Burton Albion in the second round last month.

The Burslem-based outfit – who are currently sitting sixth in League Two and four points off the automatic promotion places – have been beaten in their last seven FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition, though they previously progressed against both Southampton and Everton back in 1993-94 and 1995-96 respectively.

A surprise upset at Vale Park would see Clarke’s men advance to the fourth round for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign.

Port Vale forwards James WilsonJamie Proctor and Devante Rodney are all sidelined with injuries, while defender Daniel Jones is suspended following his red card against Newport County last month.

The hosts announced on Thursday that centre-back Ryan Johnson has completed a permanent transfer to National League side Stockport County.

However, January addition Ryan Edmundson, who has joined on loan from Leeds United, could be handed his debut up front alongside Dennis Politic.

As for Brentford, up to eight first-team players could be absent due to injury, while Frank Onyeka is away on international duty with Nigeria for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Frank revealed in his pre-match press conference that Charlie Goode and Mathias Jorgensen will remain on the sidelines for a bit longer, while Saturday’s game will also come too soon for Rico HenryMathias JensenSergi CanosJosh DasilvaTariqe Fosu-Henry and David Raya.

However, Frank also stated that Bryan Mbeumo, who has missed the last two matches with an injury, is likely to be involved at Vale Park, while Kristoffer Ajer will start in defence as the Bees boss is keen to see the Norwegian build up his match fitness.

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Talisman Ivan Toney – who has been directly involved in eight goals in his last seven appearances in the FA Cup, scoring six and assisting two – could be given a rest, with Mbuemo, Wissa and Marcus Forss looking to force their way into the first XI.

Port Vale possible starting lineup:
Covolan; Cass, Smith, Martin; Worrall, Garrity, Pett, Gibbons; Conlon; Politic, Edmundson

Brentford possible starting lineup:
Cox; Ajer, Jansson, Sorensen; Roerslev, Baptiste, Janelt, Bidstrup, Thompson; Mbuemo, Forss

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