Carlisle United have today announced via club media channels that they have signed midfielder Harrison Neal from Premier League side Sheffield United.
It is the third signing under the new ownership of the Piatak family/Castle Sports Group, coming after the signings of Josh Emmanuel and Luke Armstrong.
Carlisle are already strengthening across the pitch this window and their increased transfer budget is on show once again having announced that a fee has been paid for the midfielder.
Neal had spent the first part of the season on loan with fellow League One side Stevenage yet his time under Steve Evans yielded only five appearances in the league, just one of those in the starting eleven.
However the midfielder is expected to have far more of an impact with relegation-threatened Carlisle and he may well walk straight into the starting eleven due to the current troubles that the Blues have in that position.
All three fit central-midfielders that Carlisle currently have, Owen Moxon, Taylor Charters and Dylan McGeouch, have all had spells on the sidelines with injury recently. The signing of Neal acts as vital cover in a position which seriously needs it.
Paul Simpson has resorted to playing left-sided player Jack Robinson in the middle in recent weeks, and although that has came with some success, Robinson still looks at his best on the left-flank.
Though Neal does have something to prove after his spell with Stevenage, there does seem to be less pressure on the 22-year-old with the Cumbrian side. That being said he will have to improve to help keep the Blues in League One, with Simpson’s side currently sat in 22nd in the table.
Neal would never make a professional appearance for Sheffield United but has had loan spells with Kettering, Southend, Barrow and most recently Stevenage to gain experience in the professional ranks.
Potentially the best spell for Neal came during his time with Barrow and a move back north may once again get the best out of him.
If Carlisle have got the same Neal that Barrow had last season then he could become a real hit at Brunton Park. League One is an obvious step-up and he wasn’t given any sort of chance at Stevenage to show any progress in his career.
Maybe there are some risks with the signing but at 22 years of age, Neal no doubt still has plenty of potential within him. Carlisle face Exeter on Saturday in a relegation six-pointer and Neal could be integrated straight into the matchday squad.