Neal targeting cup start
Vale number one Chris Neal missed one game last season, the second-round Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie against Walsall.
Today Vale entertain Rochdale in this season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second-round and Neal is eager to stay in the side this time around.
“That’s what every professional wants to do, they want to play as many games as they can throughout the season.
“Last season at this stage I had a little niggle with a groin injury but there’s no such thing this year,” he said.
Rob Page will continue his role as caretaker manager tonight in Micky Adams’ absence and Neal is hopefully he can remain in goal ahead of young keeper Sam Johnson.
“It’s up to Pagey what he does with the team and I am sure he’ll make a few changes.
“I want to play every game I can and I am fit and available to play.”
To play a whole season and miss just one game requires good performances, consistency, ability and a bit of luck on the injury front.
Neal reveals his secrets to playing regularly and the kind of work he has to put in off the field, most notably the swimming pool.
“Being a 27-year-old goalkeeper now, I know my body, I know when I’ve done enough in training and know what I need to do away from the ground to keep myself fit.
“I go for a swim and try to relax away from the ground.
“Training every day I know when I’ve done enough or need a little bit more, I think that is the key.”
Neal admits that a settled back four has played a large part in Vale losing just one game since the Wolves defeat.
Incidentally the defeat was the same game in which defender Daniel Jones suffered an injury that has kept him out the side since.
Jones featured on the bench against Bristol City and could get some valuable minutes tonight.
‘Keeper Neal is confident with his back four, whoever Adams or Page decide to play in front of him.
“Jones is a great player, I am sure he’ll be back in the team when he is one hundred percent fit and match fit.
“Whoever plays in front of me I am happy with the quality that we’ve got the club.
“It’s going to be a tough game but we want to progress as far as we can in the competition and hopefully we can do that today.
“We’ve got to knuckle down and get the positive results so we’re in the next round,” Neal explained.