Fleetwood swoop for experienced keeper

Chris Neal
Chris Neal

Fleetwood Town have snapped up Port Vale’s out of contract keeper Chris Neal on a two year deal.

Town’s number one Chris Maxwell, who has just been called up to Wales’ pre-Euro 16 training camp in Portugal, is joining Championship club Preston North End when his contract runs out on July 1.

The shot-stopper’s understudy Aleks Gogic has also been released by the club and so Town have swooped for 30-year-old experienced ex-PNE and Shrewsbury keeper Neal.

He said: “It feels fantastic.

“To sign at this club is a great achievement.

“It has kind of given me a fresh start having been at Port Vale for four years now.

“I’ve been around the game a long time now, I’ve played a lot of league games and I’ve been in a couple of promotion winning teams too.

“I will be one of the older players in the team but I can bring a lot of experience and guidance to the young lads too.

“I think the management were looking for a goalkeeper that was not just an on-field player but what they can bring off it and I hope I can do that.”

Former Vale manager and new Northampton gaffer Rob Page said the decision to release Neal was based on business rather than emotions.

Neal, 30, who joined Vale in June 2012, was injured at the start of the 2015-16 season and did not play until November.

The arrival of Jak Alnwick, 22, from Newcastle then saw Neal loaned out to Bury and Doncaster last term.

Page said earlier this month when he was still Vale boss: “It’s not a surprise, because he’s been out playing games since January.

“He’s a good player. But unfortunately he got the injury and we wanted to bring a new keeper in. That’s football.

“Jak’s grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He’s had an exceptional season. He’s younger and we think there’s potential there.

“That’s the business side of football, you can’t afford to let the emotions get involved. You have to think of the club.

“I didn’t want to keep Chris hanging around and, come the end of the season, he was out of contract and not had the chance to go out and impress at another club. He thanked me for the way it was handled.”

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