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Port Vale striker Hector Sam says he is looking forward to a good kicking to prove he is ready for first-team football, writes Michael Baggaley. The 27-year-old striker played his first game for six months yesterday when he lasted an hour in a reserve friendly at home to Notts County.

The Trinidad and Tobago international says he could even be in contention for the first-team game at home to Milton Keynes Dons on March 4, but admits he won't know whether his ankle has fully recovered until he has survived his first heavy tackle.

"It is just a case of getting match fitness, but when I get that first tackle then I will feel good. I need someone to crunch those ankles to test it, but I should be all right."

Sam's outing in yesterday's 1-1 draw was his first taste of action since breaking the ankle in the Carling Cup defeat at Rotherham on August 23. He is out of contract at the end of the season, but says that has not added to the pressure on him.

He said: "That doesn't weigh on my mind. I just want to get back to full fitness and show my ability.

"I felt great after playing. After 55 minutes I felt a tingle in my ankle and decided to come off as a precautionary measure.

"The next step is to play another reserve game and hopefully play for the first team.

"It's been a very frustrating season. I haven't really proved myself to Port Vale supporters and have to do that somehow in the last few games. I owe it to them."

Louis Briscoe's 65th-minute strike cancelled out Steve Scoffham's seventh-minute opener for County in yesterday's friendly, played on the Vale Park training pitch. The Valiants included first-teamers Mark Innes, Craig James, Michael Husbands and Mark McGregor.