Neal Eardley: The Future
It's been a strange few weeks for Neal Eardley.
From being a first team regular and heralded as the future of 'Pool's midfield, he finds himself an outcast.
Left out of the team to face Hull, Seasiders manager Ian Holloway claimed that Eardley wasn't in the right frame of mind to face the Tigers and that his contract wrangles (the club are trying to negotiate a new deal with the Welsh international) had diverted his focus from on the field issues.
Ollie of course then attempted to backtrack horribly immediately after the game, stating that he omitted Eardley because he had endured a poor season (despite saying during pre-season that he was very happy with him!).
There looked like there might be something to what Ollie said though as days later Eardley captained 'Pool in their League Cup defeat against Sheffield Wednesday.
However, speaking to the press about the situation again, the manager then said the Eardley - unlike Keith Southern and Gary Taylor-Fletcher - will not be offered a new deal at present because he does not deserve one. A strange thing to say, no?
Perhaps not. It strikes me that both the Eardley and BFC camps are trying to play hardball.
I think everyone at the club knows just how good Eardley is, but as history has taught us, we as a club aren't prepared to 'break the bank' when it comes to wages.
There's no doubt though that some sympathy lies with Eardley as we all know that we wages that we pay are far from great and he's got every right to try and get himself a better deal.
A word of warning for the Welshman though; we're now well stocked for players both at right back and in central midfield, and if he's not careful he could find himself not only out of the team, but surplus to requirements.
And I don't think either party wants that; it's clear that Eardley's best years are ahead of him, and hopefully we'll get to see him reach them in a tangerine shirt.