With Birmingham City in 2013 pre-season
|Full name||Neal James Eardley|
|Date of birth||6 November 1988|
|Place of birth||Llandudno, Wales|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) |
|Playing position||Right back|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:23, 17 September 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Neal James Eardley (born 6 November 1988) is a Welsh international footballer who plays for Football League Championship side Birmingham City. His predominant position is as a right back. He previously played for Oldham Athletic and Blackpool, and has represented Wales at under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels, before winning his first full cap in 2007.
Born in Llandudno, Eardley made the transition from the Boundary Park youth system of Oldham Athletic to the first team in May 2006. He made his first team debut in a 1–1 draw versus Scunthorpe United on 6 May.
In the 2006–07 season Eardley became a regular starter, initially in a more attacking role before being shifted to defence. However, it got off to a rough start, when he was sent off in the opening game on 5 August shortly after teammate Chris Taylor, as Oldham lost 1–0 to Tranmere Rovers. In September he was given his first professional contract, lasting until June 2009. He scored his first goal on 9 December 2006 in a 2–1 loss to Chesterfield from a free kick. In his first season as a regular starter, Eardley made a total of 41 appearances, scoring two goals.
The following season Eardley cemented his place as an integral member of the Oldham defence and was named captain during Sean Gregan's absence. In October 2007 he signed a one-year extension to his contract, extending it until 2010.
On 11 March 2008, he scored his first ever brace from penalty kicks in a 2–0 win over Bournemouth. Almost two months later, he again had a multi-goal game in a 4–1 victory over Crewe Alexandra. In total, he made 49 appearances, scoring six goals.
On 6 August 2009, Sky Sports reported that Oldham Athletic had accepted a bid for Eardley from Championship side Blackpool, whose manager, Ian Holloway, had been trying to sign him throughout the close-season, with Eardley having been given permission to talk to the Seasiders and undergo a medical at Bloomfield Road. The following day, he signed a two-year contract, with an option for a further 12 months, for an undisclosed fee,
On 18 August he made his debut in a 0–0 draw with Derby County at Bloomfield Road. On 25 January 2010 he was named in the Press Association's Championship "Team of the Week", along with team-mate Charlie Adam following his performance two days before in the 3–2 home victory over Watford.
On 8 February 2010 Eardley was one of three players, along with Barry Bannan and Ishmel Demontagnac, disciplined by Ian Holloway, when they were seen out at a nightclub two days previously in Blackpool following the home defeat to Leicester City, even though Eardley was nursing a knee problem, and was due to undergo treatment the following day. Holloway explained: "I'm disappointed – we'll have a party once we've got 52 points. If they think that's appropriate, then they're messing with the wrong man. Bannan's probably broken his toe but it was apparently good enough to go out dancing on a Saturday night. How can you be injured and be dancing? I like a dance with anybody but it's got to be the right time and when you're in a good mood. I'm not in a good mood when I lose and neither should they be." All three were dropped from the squad for the next game, away to Sheffield Wednesday.
Eardley scored his first goal for Blackpool with a free-kick in a 2–2 draw with Everton in the Premier League at Bloomfield Road on 6 November 2010, coincidentally his birthday. He was subsequently named in the Premier League Team of the Week, alongside teammate and fellow goalscorer David Vaughan.
On 12 February 2011, four days after appearing for Wales in their friendly defeat to the Republic of Ireland, Eardley was left out of the starting eleven against Aston Villa at Bloomfield Road in favour of Alex Baptiste.
Six months later, Eardley was left out of the squad for Blackpool's first game since their relegation from the Premier League, citing dissatisfaction at his 50% pay cut from the previous campaign. For the following game, a League Cup first-round tie at Sheffield Wednesday, Eardley, playing in central midfield, captained the side.
Eardley signed a new, one-year contract with the club on 26 August 2011. Eardley made his first appearance of the 2011-12 season, where he came on as a substitute in the 58th minutes against Brighton & Hove Albion and two minutes into coming on, he set up a goal for Kevin Phillips. At the start of the season, Eardley had been on and off in the first team, due to injuries. On 26 November 2011, Eardley would score a "stunning 25-yard strike", in a 2-2 draw against Birmingham City. Eardley would dedicated his goal against Birmingham City for Gary Speed, who died the following day. Eardley started in the right-back for play-off final against West Ham United. Eardley would went managed to keep his first team place despite making twenty-six appearance of 2011-12 season. As a result of his appearance, his stay at Blackpool was extended another 12 months, which Holloway commented: "A huge event has happened in his life, with the birth of his little girl, and I really think this is the making of him."
At the start of the 2012-13 season, Eardley kept his place in the first team, playing in either centre and right back in defence. However, his first team place was gone following Holloway departure and since have various changes of management. Following his first two appearance of 2013, Eardley would make a return in the first team. Towards the end of the 2012-13, Eardley would often make an appearance on and off the pitches, mostly spent on the bench. Eardley was offered a new contract by the club despite making twenty-three appearance in the season. Eardley says his season at Blackpool, quoting: "I've obviously not played as many games as I probably would have liked, but there has been a lot chopping and changing within the club and sometimes that happens."
In May 2013, Eardley agreed a three-year deal with Birmingham City, to begin on 1 July after his contract with Blackpool expired. He started the first seven games of the season, but half an hour into the match against Ipswich Town on 31 August suffered a knee injury, later diagnosed as a ruptured medial ligament and a partial tear to the anterior cruciate ligament, which was expected to keep him out for the season.
Club career statistics
- As of match played 16 September 2014
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Oldham Athletic||2005–06||League One||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Oldham Athletic total||113||10||8||0||5||0||3||0||129||10|
|Birmingham City total||8||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||11||0|
Eardley earned his first senior cap for Wales in a 1–0 win over Bulgaria on 22 August 2007, coming on as a substitute in the 46th minute. He also played twice in Wales' unsuccessful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, a 2–1 win over San Marino on 17 October 2007 and on 17 November, a 2–2 draw with Republic of Ireland.
In March 2009 Eardley played in Wales under–21s' opening two games in Qualifying Group Three for the 2011 UEFA European Under–21 Championship, both against Luxembourg under–21s. The first game, on 27 March, was a 0–0 draw at Deich, Ettelbruck Luxembourg. Then four days later he scored the first goal, from a penalty kick, in a 5–1 win at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli.
On 6 June 2009 he made his first appearance in World Cup qualification as Wales beat Azerbaijan 1–0 in their 2010 World cup UEFA Group Four game at the Tofik Bakhramov Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.
He missed the under-21 side's third 2011 UEFA qualifying game, a 4–1 victory over Hungary under-21s on 11 August as he had been called up to the full Wales squad for a friendly against Montenegro at the Podgorica City Stadium in Montenegro the following day, which they lost 2–1, with Eardley replacing Sam Ricketts in the 57th minute.
Later in August he was again named in Brian Flynn's Wales under-21 squad for their next 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group Three qualifying game against Italy under-21s on 4 September. He helped Wales win 2–1, their first-ever victory over Italy at under-21 level. He was then called up to the full squad for their World Cup qualifier against Russia on 9 September, and was an unused substitute in the match, which Wales lost 3–1.
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- "Blackpool 1–1 Aston Villa" - BBC Sport, 12 February 2011
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- "Neil Eardley will be joining Birmingham at the start of July". Sky Sports. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
- Walker, Andy (4 September 2013). "Eardley out for season". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
- "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
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