Neal Eardley

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Not to be confused with Neal Ardley.
Neal Eardley
Neal Eardley BCFC 2013.jpg
With Birmingham City in 2013 pre-season
Personal information
Full name Neal James Eardley
Date of birth (1988-11-06) 6 November 1988 (age 27)
Place of birth Llandudno, Wales
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)[1]
Playing position Right back
Youth career
0000–2006 Oldham Athletic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2006–2009 Oldham Athletic 113 (10)
2009–2013 Blackpool 104 (2)
2013–2016 Birmingham City 14 (0)
2015 Leyton Orient (loan) 1 (0)
National team
2003–2004 Wales U17 3 (0)
2005 Wales U19 1 (0)
2006–2010 Wales U21 10 (1)
2007–2011 Wales 16 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 11:31, 9 May 2016 (UTC).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11:31, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Neal James Eardley (born 6 November 1988) is a Welsh international footballer who most recently played for Football League Championship club Birmingham City. His predominant position is as a right back. He previously played for Oldham Athletic and Blackpool, and represented Wales at under-17, under-19 and under-21 levels, before winning his first full cap in 2007.

Club career[edit]

Oldham Athletic[edit]

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 with Scunthorpe United on 6 May.[2]

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.[3] In September he was given his first professional contract, lasting until June 2009.[4] He scored his first goal on 9 December 2006 in a 2–1 loss to Chesterfield with a free kick.[5] In his first season as a regular starter, Eardley made 41 appearances, scoring twice.[6]

The following season Eardley cemented his place as an integral member of the Oldham defence and was named captain during Sean Gregan's absence.[1] In October 2007 he signed a one-year extension to his contract, extending it until 2010.[7] On 11 March 2008, he scored a brace from penalty kicks in a 2–0 win over AFC Bournemouth.[8] Almost two months later, he again had a multi-goal game in a 4–1 victory over Crewe Alexandra.[9] In total, he made 49 appearances and scored 6 goals.[1]

Eardley and teammate Chris Taylor were named in the 2008–09 League One Team of the Year.[10]

Blackpool[edit]

Blackpool's manager, Ian Holloway, had been trying to sign Eardley throughout the 2009 close season.[11] On 7 August, he signed a two-year contract, with an option for a further 12 months, for an undisclosed fee,[12] that was reported to be about £350,000.[13] He was an unused substitute as the Seasiders started the 2009–10 season the following day with a 1–1 draw with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.[14]

On 18 August he made his debut in the starting eleven for a 0–0 draw with Derby County at Bloomfield Road.[15] He and teammate Charlie Adam were named in the Football League Championship Team of the Week following their performance in the 3–2 home victory over Watford on 23 January 2010.[16] In February 2010, Eardley, Barry Bannan and Ishmel Demontagnac were disciplined by Holloway, when they were seen out at a nightclub in Blackpool following the home defeat to Leicester City, even though Eardley had a knee problem and was due to undergo treatment the next 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.[17]

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.[18] He was subsequently named in the Premier League Team of the Week, alongside teammate and fellow goalscorer David Vaughan.[19]

After Blackpool's relegation from the Premier League, Eardley's pay was cut by 50%: Holloway suggested he was "so messed up by the whole thing" that he would be left out of the squad for the opening game of the new season.[20] For the following game, a League Cup first-round tie at Sheffield Wednesday, Eardley, playing in central midfield, captained a weakened side and missed a penalty.[21] He made his first appearance for the first team on 20 August; within two minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute with Blackpool 2–0 down to Brighton & Hove Albion, he set up a goal for Kevin Phillips[22] and went on to produce a "brilliant display" that "helped Pool grab the unlikeliest of draws".[21] He signed a new one-year contract with the club on 26 August,[23] but injuries disrupted his first-team appearances in the early part of the season.[21][24] He scored a "25-yard screamer into the top corner" in a 2–2 draw with Birmingham City on 26 November which he dedicated to Wales international manager Gary Speed, who died the next day.[25] Eardley started at right-back in the play-off final defeat against West Ham United,[26] taking his appearance total to 33 for the season.[27] The club took up their option of a further year on his contract,season. As a result of his appearance, his stay at Blackpool was extended another 12 months.[28]

In September 2012, Holloway suggested that Eardley had matured over the previous year, during which his first child, a girl, had been born.[29] He remained a first-team regular until Michael Appleton replaced Holloway as manager, but played less frequently thereafter,[30] and appeared even less under Paul Ince. Although disappointed by his lack of opportunity – "there has been a lot chopping and changing within the club and sometimes that happens" – he felt he had learnt from the experience and was settled at the club and in the area.[31]

Birmingham City[edit]

In May 2013, Eardley agreed a three-year deal with Birmingham City, to begin on 1 July after his contract with Blackpool expired.[32] He started the first seven games of the season,[33] 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.[34] He returned to the starting eleven for the defeat at Middlesbrough on the opening day of the 2014–15 season,[35] but was unable to establish himself either as a starter or, latterly, in the matchday squad. In January 2015, he joined League One club Leyton Orient on loan for a month.[36] However, the loan spell was ended prematurely on 9 February after just one appearance.[37]

Eardley finally returned to Birmingham's first team for the League Cup win at Bristol Rovers in August 2015.[38] He was unable to dislodge Paul Caddis from the league starting eleven until 18 September, but after 44 minutes of the visit to Ipswich Town, he dislocated a shoulder.[39] He made his next first-team appearance on 5 December, in a 2–0 defeat at home to Huddersfield Town, started the next four matches, then missed a few weeks with a minor groin problem.[40] Returning on 9 January 2016 for the FA Cup-tie with AFC Bournemouth, he lasted until half-time, and was carried off the field with cruciate ligament damage.[41] He was released by Birmingham when his contract expired at the end of the season.[42]

Club career statistics[edit]

As of match played 7 May 2016
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Oldham Athletic 2005–06[43] League One 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
2006–07[6] League One 36 2 3 0 1 0 1[a] 0 41 2
2007–08[44] League One 42 6 5 0 2 0 1[b] 0 50 6
2008–09[45] League One 34 2 0 0 2 0 1[b] 0 37 2
Oldham Athletic total 113 10 8 0 5 0 3 0 129 10
Blackpool 2009–10[14] Championship 24 0 1 0 2 0 27 0
2010–11[46] Premier League 31 1 1 0 1 0 33 1
2011–12[27] Championship 26 1 3 0 1 0 3[a] 0 33 1
2012–13[47] Championship 23 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 26 0
Blackpool total 104 2 7 0 5 0 3 0 119 2
Birmingham City 2013–14[33] Championship 5 0 0 0 2 0 7 0
2014–15[35] Championship 4 0 1 0 1 0 6 0
2015–16[38] Championship 5 0 1 0 2 0 8 0
Birmingham City total 14 0 2 0 5 0 0 0 21 0
Leyton Orient 2014–15[35] League One 1 0 1 0
Career total 232 12 17 0 15 0 6 0 270 12
  1. ^ a b Appearances in Football League play-offs
  2. ^ a b Appearances in Football League Trophy

International career[edit]

Eardley made three appearances for Wales at under–17 level in 2003 and 2004. In 2005 he played once for the Welsh under–19s before making his debut with the under-21 side in 2007.

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.[48] He also played twice in Wales' unsuccessful Euro 2008 qualifying campaign,[1] in 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 for the 2011 European Championships, both against Luxembourg under–21s. The first game, on 27 March, was a 0–0 draw at Deich, Ettelbruck,[49] then four days later he scored the first goal, from a penalty kick, in a 5–1 win at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli.[50]

On 6 June 2009 he made his first appearance in a World Cup match, as Wales beat Azerbaijan 1–0 in their 2010 qualifier at the Tofik Bakhramov Stadium in Baku.[51]

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 the following day, which they lost 2–1. Eardley replaced Sam Ricketts in the 57th minute.[52]

He started Wales under-21's 2–1 win against Italy, also a Euro 2011 qualifier,[53] which was their first ever victory over Italy at under-21 level.[citation needed] 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.

Honours[edit]

Individual[edit]

Blackpool

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Neal Eardley". Oldham Athletic A.F.C. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  2. ^ "Oldham 1 Scunthorpe 1". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  3. ^ "Tranmere 1–0 Oldham". BBC Sport. 5 August 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Eardley earns first Oldham deal". BBC Sport. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  5. ^ "Chesterfield 2–1 Oldham". BBC Sport. 9 December 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2006/2007". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Eardley extends Oldham contract". BBC Sport. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Oldham 2–0 Bournemouth". BBC Sport. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "Crewe 1–4 Oldham". BBC Sport. 3 May 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "League One Team of the Year". Sky Sports. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  11. ^ O'Rourke, Peter (6 August 2009). "Pool agree Eardley fee". Sky Sports. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  12. ^ "Eardley arrives". Blackpool F.C. 7 August 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2009. 
  13. ^ Watt, William (7 August 2009). "Pool sign Welsh defender". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2009/2010". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Blackpool vs Derby County". Blackpool F.C. 18 August 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "Team of the Week (25/01/2010)" (PDF). The Football League. 25 January 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Ian Holloway axes Blackpool trio after nightclub visit". BBC Sport. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  18. ^ Ashenden, Mark (6 November 2010). "Blackpool 2–2 Everton". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  19. ^ "Team of the Week: Week 11 09-11-2010". Premier League. 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "Defender could miss Hull match". Blackpool Gazette. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c "Eardley hopes obstacles come to end". Blackpool Gazette. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  22. ^ "Brighton 2–2 Blackpool". BBC Sport. 20 August 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  23. ^ "Eardley signs new Blackpool deal". Blackpool Gazette. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  24. ^ "Holloway finds secret weapon". Blackpool Gazette. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  25. ^ "Eardley dedicates goal to Speed". Blackpool Gazette. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  26. ^ Fletcher, Paul (19 May 2012). "Blackpool 1–2 West Ham". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  27. ^ a b "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2011/2012". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  28. ^ "Ormerod heads for Pool exit". Blackpool Gazette. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  29. ^ "Big 12 months for Pool defender". Blackpool Gazette. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  30. ^ "Eardley hoping for run in Pool side". Blackpool Gazette. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  31. ^ "Eardley reflects on campaign". Blackpool F.C. 15 May 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  32. ^ "Neil Eardley will be joining Birmingham at the start of July". Sky Sports. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2013/2014". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  34. ^ Walker, Andy (4 September 2013). "Eardley out for season". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  35. ^ a b c "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2014/2015". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "Neal Eardley signs on loan". Leyton Orient F.C. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  37. ^ Putnam, Sam (9 February 2015). "Neal Eardley returns to Blues". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  38. ^ a b "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2015/2016". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  39. ^ Dick, Brian (19 September 2015). "Neal Eardley: Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett on the unlucky defender's latest injury blow". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  40. ^ Lewis, Peter (23 December 2015). "Welcome return for key Blues trio". Birmingham City F.C. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  41. ^ Dick, Brian (15 January 2016). "Birmingham City defender suffers 'heartbreaking' injury likely to end season". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  42. ^ "Five players leave Blues". Birmingham City F.C. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  43. ^ "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2005/2006". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  44. ^ "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  45. ^ "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2008/2009". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  46. ^ "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2010/2011". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  47. ^ "Games played by Neal Eardley in 2012/2013". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  48. ^ "Bulgaria 0–1 Wales". BBC Sport. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  49. ^ "Luxembourg U21 0–0 Wales U21". BBC Sport. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  50. ^ "Wales U21 5–1 Luxembourg U21". BBC Sport. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  51. ^ "Match Report: Azerbaijan – Wales". FIFA. 6 June 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  52. ^ "Montenegro 2–1 Wales". BBC Sport. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  53. ^ "Wales U21 2–1 Italy U21". BBC Sport. 4 September 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 

External links[edit]