By Tony Leighton
We're only at the second round stage of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy but Walsall manager Dean Smith has already had a feel of the impressive piece of silverware.
Smith was able to hold the trophy aloft when it was on display at the Walsall branch of the paint company ahead of his npower League 1 team's northern section meeting with near-neighbours Port Vale at the Banks's Stadium on Tuesday evening.
And although he is not being previous about likewise lifting the trophy after next April's final, the Saddlers boss can nevertheless dream of a Wembley triumph.
Smith told football-league.co.uk: "It would be fantastic for the club and the fans to get to Wembley and experience a great day out for everyone involved.
"I've spoken to managers like Greg Abbott, who won it with Carlisle United a couple of years ago, and with John Sheridan after he won it with Chesterfield last season, and they've told me what a wonderful occasion the Trophy final is.
"So we'll be going all out to get to Wembley, but we can't look any further than this second round match because it's going to be very tough against Port Vale."
With home advantage, Walsall should be favourites against their npower League 2 opponents. But, after a fine start to the season, the Saddlers have dropped into mid-table after losing their last two matches. The Valiants, meanwhile, are flying high with seven wins and only one defeat from their 11 games to date, putting them in second place.
Add in the local derby angle, and it could be anybody's game as Walsall take on the Potteries club where Smith ended his playing career.
The Saddlers boss and former central defender said: "I was only at Vale for a few months in the twilight of my career, but I've got good memories of a very nice club.
"The people there were fantastic and seven years later there are a few of them still with the club, so it will be nice to meet up with some old friends.
"Vale have had a difficult time of late, going into administration and having a lot of question marks over their future, so to be doing as well as they are on the pitch is great credit to [manager] Micky Adams and his team.
"They've got some very good players, and although they're in League 2 they'll give us as tough a game as we get every week. We want to do well in this competition though, so we'll be doing everything we can to win the match."
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