BURTON Albion have signed defender Neal Eardley after his contract expired at League One rivals Lincoln City.
The 31-year-old former Premier League defender has signed a one-year deal with the Brewers.
Eardley started his career with Oldham Athletic, making 129 appearances, before departing Boundary park for Bloomfield Road, Blackpool in 2009. During the 2010/11 campaign he made 33 appearances for The Seasiders during their solo season in the Premier League.
His next move saw him sign for Birmingham City, under then manager Lee Clark, signing a three-year deal in the summer of 2013.
Eardley is a Wales international having made 16 appearance for his country and has also had short spells with Leyton Orient, Hibernian and Northampton during his career.
He signed for Lincoln at the start of the 2017/18 season, winning The Imps’ Player of the Season award during his first season. He went on to also win the Player's Player of the Year award at the end of the 2018/19 season, making 137 appearances in total during his time at Sincil Bank.
Manager Jake Buxton was delighted to get the deal over the line after fighting off interest from other clubs. He said: “We wanted to get the deal sorted as soon as we possibly could, as we knew that there was interest from elsewhere in Neal. I’m delighted that everything’s now been finalised and that he’s a Burton Albion player.
“He was keen to sign and was blown away by the solid foundations that have been built at the club by the owner (Ben Robinson) and his family.
“He’s a seasoned professional and is vastly experienced throughout the Football League – his promotions speak for themselves.
Buxton explained that Eardley’s quality of delivery is a key part to his game, which has also earnt him a nickname during his time at Lincoln. “He’s been known by many as The Postman,” Buxton laughed.
“His general quality of delivering the ball into the right areas is excellent, particularly from dead-ball situations, so I think the nickname’s a tribute to these abilities that he possesses.”
The new Brewers manager also expressed that Eardley’s characteristics are of a certain kind that he’s trying to bring into the club. He said: “Eards (Neal Eardley) is a genuine lad, who’s wants to play for the club and is here for all the right reasons. It will be players like that I will continue to look at bringing to Burton Albion.
Eardley expressed his joy at finalising the deal and cannot wait to get started. He said: “I’ve had a few conversations with manager (Jake Buxton) and he’s a really good guy. I can’t wait to get going and help to build something really positive at the football club.”
What can the fans expect to see from the new recruit?
Eardley said: “I’m predominantly a right back and have played in a number of positions throughout my career, mainly across the backline, but also as a holding midfielder on occasions.
“I think it’s good to have those strings to your bow, and from speaking to the manager, I think it suits in case he ever wants to flip formations and do things differently. I’d like to think I’m a player who can do that.”