Vale number one targeting clean sweep again
Port Vale number one Chris Neal admits he is under serious competition for his starting spot from young goalkeeper Sam Johnson.
Neal started all 46 league matches last season, plus all cup matches with the exception of Vale’s penalty shootout victory against Walsall when 20-year-old goalkeeper Johnson scored the winning penalty.
The former Shrewsbury Town player knows that Johnson, who at the age of 20 stands at six foot seven inches will be pushing him harder than ever for a starting spot.
Neal said: “I think the best thing you can have is competition and in all the spots that shows around the whole squad.
“Sam (Johnson) has come back fit and strong and he’ll be pushing me as hard as he can, obviously playing in reserve games he is looking to impress.
“It’s always welcome to have competition.
“He is still 20 years-old, so he is a young keeper, he’s got possibly 20 years left in the game.”
Neal insists that despite being in direct competition with Johnson he is more than happy to help the young goalkeeper day-in day-out at training.
“I try and do my best improve him the way I can as well, working with him in training everyday and Grewy (Mark Grew) does the same.
“If I can help him in anyway possible I will do.”
With Johnson now contending for that number one jersey Neal is still hopeful of starting all 46 league matches barring any injuries.
“100 percent that’s what I did last year for the first time ever in my career and to me personally that was a big achievement, playing 46 games, and obviously it was down to the manager picking me as well.
“I was desperate to play that last game; it was a good achievement for myself.”
Neal is expecting windy playing conditions at Boundary Park tomorrow (Saturday) when Vale face Oldham Athletic (3pm).
Vale will be looking for their first away win of the season and Neal believes it is important they carry last week’s momentum into the game.
“I am expecting the conditions to be windy like before, I’ve never played when it’s not windy.
“Every game in this league, you look at and you think that’s a tough game.
“We need to make sure we’re on our metal and hopefully go there and pick up another three points and get some momentum in the season,” he explained.
“When you win it keeps the spirits high, the lads spirits have been high during training and during the week so the more wins and points we can get under our belt early in the season it puts us in good stead for later on in the season.”
Oldham ticket and travel information.