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Chris Neal Pleased To Be Back

20 February 2016

Vale goalkeeper Chris Neal was happy with his performance despite admitting that the last day has been action packed.

Neal was recalled from his loan spell at Doncaster Rovers yesterday after Jak Alnwick picked up a back injury in training on Friday.

The keeper could not prevent Vale slipping to a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday though, as Billy Sharp's clinical finish was the difference between the two sides.

“It has been a hectic 24 hours, not knowing until yesterday really where I was going to be playing. It is nice to be back playing at Vale, it was not the result we wanted but I’m fairly happy with my own personal performance.”

He admits that despite not training with Vale for a few weeks, it was not a problem coming straight back into the side in Saturday’s loss.

“You do a lot of work on team shape during the week, obviously I’ve not trained with Vale for two and a half weeks but everything is pretty much the same.

“I know the players, what they are going to do and so it isn’t that much of a difference between teams.”

Despite being pleasantly happy with his own performance, the 30-year-old stopper believes that the side were disappointed with the collective display at Bramall Lane.

“I thought we had a go in the last 20-25 minutes, we had a few half chances but up to that I don’t think that we kept the ball well enough, we were not keeping it moving enough, we have said all of this in the changing room.

“It was a bit of a sloppy game, we know we can do better than that and so hopefully we will move on to the next game doing that.”

The defeat leaves Vale sitting in 11th place, seven points off the Sky Bet League One play-offs, but the returning goalkeeper believes that the Vale squad are still capable of making the cut and should be delighted with the campaign they have had so far.

“It has been brilliant, under Pagey that was always going to be the case, he just needed time to stamp his authority on to the team. He has done that, if you look at the budget that we have at Vale compared to some of the teams around us in the league, I think we are punching above our weight.

“If we get some points between now and the end of the season then there is no reason why we can’t push for the play-offs.

“It is the old cliché of taking one game at a time, I think that is all we can do, we will move on to next week and see where that takes us. There is a lot of winnable games coming up but we know that not one game in this league is an easy game so we need to go on our metal and on our guard and hopefully pick up some points.”

After playing well in his return to the Vale goal, Neal is looking to keep the jersey for the clash with Southend United at Vale Park on Friday but he admits that Alnwick’s form has been different class.

“I don’t know the extent of the injury to Jak (Alnwick) so I will have to wait during training next week and then see what happens on Friday.

“Jak has been different class. I can’t say anything else than that, when he came in he had not played many games but he has gone on and played most of the season. It is hard watching on from the side but you have got to appreciate what a good player he is.”  

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