'Keeper must wait to find out extent of injury
Vale ‘keeper Chris Neal is expected to be out for at least a month, and won’t find out until later this week whether or not he has fractured his wrist.
He dislocated a finger and at best damaged ligaments in his wrist in the final minutes of a training session on Friday and now faces a lay off until Christmas at the earliest.
Neal said: “A player’s worst nightmare is to get injured, especially when you do it in training on a Friday, preparing for a game. I am disappointed but I am going to try to get back as quick as I can.
“I will obviously have to make sure it is right with the wrist because everyone knows it is important for a goalkeeper to get that one hundred per cent right before coming back.
“I am just giving it a bit of time for the swelling to go down first and then we will go from there.
“I went for an X-ray on Friday and because there was a little bit too much swelling they have asked me to go for another X-ray in about a week’s time to make sure there isn’t a fracture.
“Hopefully it is just ligament damage and I’ll be doing everything I can to strengthen it back up and get back on the pitch and in training as quick as possible.
“I have had injuries in the past, not here, but probably four or five years ago I have had injuries before so there is always going to be a time when I miss a game after playing a lot of consecutive games.
“I am disappointed but there is nothing I can do about it now, I just have to make sure I put everything back into my rehabilitation and get back as soon as I can.
“While I am out I can’t do anything like weights, but I can do other stuff in the gym and keep myself ticking over and try and come back as fit as I can.”
“Whilst he is out, Sam Johnson faces the task of playing behind the Vale defence and Neal has words of encouragement for the young ‘keeper.
Johnson made his league debut in the win at Walsall at the weekend, kept a clean sheet, and didn’t seem troubled by the job he had undertaken and Neal predicts a big future for the 21-year-old.
“I was very pleased for Sam (Johnson) on Saturday, it was his first league start. He showed what he could do against Walsall last year in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and I was made up for Sam and I hope he continues. He said:
“It is a great start for him – he has just turned twenty-one and he has more years ahead of him that I have got left in me. Time is on his side and hopefully he is going to have a good run now.
“He started on Saturday and it will do him good to start in front of the home fans on Friday night.
“I have worked with him for a year and a half now and can see massive potential in him, he is young and just lacking that bit of experience, but I am sure that will come over the years.”