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Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Simpson can lead Shrewsbury to promotion - Lewis Neal

Lewis Neal
Lewis Neal made his senior debut for Stoke at 19

Lewis Neal has backed boss Paul Simpson to shrug off his critics and lead Shrewsbury Town to promotion.

Simpson spoke of his disappointment after being criticised by some fans in the 1-1 draw with Burton on 18 January.

And midfielder Neal BBC Radio Shropshire."The flak's unfair, but every manager gets it, even at Manchester United.

"One of the reasons I came here was to work under Paul Simpson, and he'll just get his head down and get on with it."

He added: "He knows his squad is good enough to get promoted. It's just about us proving it by producing that level of consistency, week-in week-out."

Neal has reclaimed his place in Shrewsbury's starting line-up after separate calf and groin injuries this season.

"It's been a little frustrating for me this season, a bit stop and start," he added.

"I've played the last six games on the bounce and was pleased with the way it'd been going - until we lost to Accrington at the weekend, when none of us played as well as we can.

"But we've got to put that behind us, and go on another good run - starting with three points at Macclesfield this Saturday."

Neal, 28, worked his was up the ranks at Stoke, playing 70 League games for the Potters before joining Preston in 2005 where he played under Simpson.

He later joined Notts County on loan and then signed for Carlisle, where he helped keep them in League One last season.

He signed a two-year contract at Shrewsbury in the summer.

Neal has also pointed to a harmonious home life helping his football this season - in contrast to the Shrewsbury striker Jake Robinson, who has pointed to the difficulties of moving from Brighton to Shropshire affecting his form.

"When I joined Shrewsbury, my wife Debbie and I made the decision to stay living in Leicester - to give my three year old daughter Mia a settled family life," Neal said.

The Neals are expecting a second child in a couple of months.

"If home life is good, then the football looks after itself," he added.

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