LEADING Port Vale goalscorer Tom Pope has warned his side of the dangers Swindon Town possess in front of goal, making particular reference to returning forward Marc Richards.

Richards missed Town’s trip to Colchester two weeks ago when pulling up during the pre-match warm-up before illness and slight tightness in his calf forced Swindon manager Richie Wellens to put the experienced striker on the bench.

Now over his illness and calf struggles, Richards is poised to return to Town’s starting line-up against his former club – despite struggling for goals himself this season having notched just one goal in almost 1,000 minutes of play this season.

Pope, a former team mate of Richards at Port Vale, told the Valiants’ website: “He (Marc Richards) always scores goals and creates problems.

“On his day, he’s as good as anybody in the league so he is certainly going to be one that if he plays we’ll have to keep our eyes on.

“He’s a goalscorer and he’s as strong as an ox.

“I think the one season I did have with him, he struggled a lot with his ankle.

“He didn’t really train much - a bit like me now, they’d wheel him out on a Saturday and try do the best you could with him, but for him to carry on as long as he has.

“I thought he would’ve struggled but he had his operation and he scored two against us last season and he still looks a handful.”

Meanwhile Port Vale will be looking to bridge the gap between themselves and play-off hopefuls Tranmere Rovers, who are currently eight points clear of the Valiants.

Pope added: “We’re facing Swindon, Cheltenham and Macclesfield, we can try and put a run together and certainly in the new year you can look at the table and see that your looking up rather than looking over your shoulders.”