After weeks of anticipation, the club have finally announced that Player of the Year and all round great footballer Neal Eardley will remain at the club for two seasons.
After last night’s defeat at Exeter there had been speculation he may have played his final matches for the club, instead from the ashes of our play off campaign rises the news of him remaining with us for the foreseeable future. Eardley has been a revelation since signing a six-month deal in the summer, triggering an extension in January after a series of displays that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Championship.
He’s been a key part a defensive line that has kept 15 league clean sheets this season, with ESPN.com crediting him with 10 assists from his 54 outings. He missed just two league games, matches we conceded a total of eight goals in, against Crewe and Luton. He only missed two of our Checkatrade Trophy matches, against Accrington and Everton U21s.
Danny Cowley is understandably delighted to be able to keep the former Welsh international at Sincil Bank.
“Neal has had a brilliant season, he’s brought a wealth of experience, he’s technically excellent and has been such a consistent performer,” Cowley said. “We’re delighted to be able to extend his contract, it’s something we’ve been really motivated to do since January. It’s taken a bit of time, but there’s always been a real motivation from both parties to make it happen.”
The Imps boss was full of praise for Neal’s hard work and dedication, but also to the supporters who he believes have made the full-back feel at home since his arrival.
“The supporters and the way that they have taken Neal to their hearts and the way they have supported him has played a big part in the extension,” he added. “He’s just a top, top player. He’s played right at the highest level of the game, and you can see that with the way he conducts himself and works on the training pitch.”
The news will go some way to softening the blow of last night’s defeat at Exeter, knowing that the majority of our squad who have reached the top seven will be kept together. Eardley had perhaps been the last player with a question mark over his head, but him signing the extension now leaves us free to recruit without too much worry about the experienced players moving on.
Photos courtesy of Graham Burrell