Port Vale's Ryan Johnson reveals he was ready when called upon following his first league start since August
Luke Molyneux of Hartlepool United and Ryan Johnson of Port Vale battle for possession during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Port Vale and Hartlepool United at Vale Park, Burslem on Saturday 27th November 2021. (Photo by James Holyoak/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It has been a difficult start to life at Port Vale for Ryan Johnson with yesterday's start against former club Hartlepool United only being his fourth appearance in League Two since the 25-year old's arrival in the summer. 

Granted at times so far this season Johnson has been kept out due to injury, but the impressive performances of the regular back three of Nathan Smith, Lewis Cass and Dan Jones has kept him out of the team

There is even good defensive competition on the bench with the likes of Aaron Martin and Leon Legge also fighting for a spot in Darrell Clarke's starting fold meaning that at times Johnson has failed to make the bench.

However, for the clash against a team that he featured 37 times for last season as they went on to earn promotion, Johnson was given the opportunity to prove his worth.

This was after Jones was dropped to the bench after a disappointing display in midweek against Walsall and Smith failed to make the matchday squad.

Johnson took full advantage of the opportunity provided by Clarke as he put in a strong and commanding performance with him putting his body on the line when any danger came in his direction.

It was a showing that will certainly give the Valiants boss a defensive selection headache for upcoming games, but it is one that will please the former Bristol Rovers manager as it increases his side's strength in depth- something which is vital if they look to have a successful season.

On his return to the side

After the game when speaking on his reintroduction into the starting 11, Johnson said that he was ready to step up to the occasion when called upon.

"It comes from training every day. Our standards are set so high, Monday to Friday every single player has got to be on their job because you never know when you are going to get called upon.

"As you have seen today it was my turn. So I was ready, I have been ready, so I was just happy to be out there."

On competition at centre back

With the competition in the centre back roles being so high as Clarke has six players that come in and do a job in this role, Johnson revealed that he always tries to improve himself so he can try to break into the back three.

"I have learnt so much already playing with the likes of Aaron (Martin), Smudge (Nathan Smith) who have played so many games. It is amazing.

"I am always trying to better myself whether I am in the team or not. I train to the best of my abilities Monday to Friday to be ready on a Saturday."