TOWN boss Neil Aspin has spoken of his delight after landing former Huddersfield Town stopper Simon Eastwood as his first choice keeper at the Shay.
The 21-year-old local lad, who started as a junior with Greetland Goldstars before joining the Terriers, has penned a one-year deal after leaving former Town boss Chris Wilder’s League Two side Oxford United in search of regular football.
It had been expected that Eastwood would provide competition for Jonathan Hedge in the forthcoming season. However, Hedge’s departure after deciding not to take up the offer of a new contract means that Eastwood and Phil Senior will now be vying for the coveted No 1 jersey
“Simon wanted to come back to Halifax and play for Halifax Town,” said Aspin. “He also wants to get his career back on track because he hasn’t played a lot of football over the last two years.
“He had fantastic potential as a young player and great things were expected of him. But he has found it difficult because he hasn’t been playing on a regular basis and so this is the perfect opportunity for him to get the first team football he needs to re-establish himself.”
Clinching Eastwood’s signature was a major coup for Aspin as Oxford were reluctant to let him go.
Wilder certainly had no interest in letting the former England under 19 stopper go to another League Two club so when Halifax exspressed an interest the wheels were set in motion.
“It is good for the football club and to be honest if he wasn’t from the area I don’t think we would have got him,” added Aspin.
“Oxford certainly weren’t interested in letting him go as he still had a year on his contract to run. But I had a chat with Chris Wilder and everything was sorted out to everybody’s advantage.
“I am looking forward to working with Simon and hopefully we can get his career up and running again.”
While Eastwood’s capture is a major plus, Aspin reserved generous praise for the man he will be replacing.
Hedge, who was twice selected for the England C squad during his time at the Shay, has been one of the major player’s in Town’s successive promotions after Aspin brought the player in from previous club Harrogate Town.
He had also been at the club previously as a member of Wilder’s Nationwide Conference squad.
“Hedgey has done very well for me in the time he has been at Halifax,” said Aspin. “I can only say good things about him. He has been extremely professional both on and off the pitch and has been an absolute pleasure to work with.
“He goes with our best wishes and again, like Simon, it gives him the chance to re-establish his career in new surroundings.”
Hedge’s departure has also opened the door for Phil Senior, who may well have expected to have been another leaving the Shay during the summer.
However, he now has the opportunity to stake a claim to become first choice and Aspin is expecting him to take the opportunity with both hands.
“Phil got a bit of a kick up the backside to be honest because he knew we could have let him go,” added Aspin.
“Now with Hedgey having left he has the chance to compete with Simon for the goalkeeper’s jersey.
“Hopefully he will respond in a positive manner and as he was happy to re-sign I imagine he will do just that.”