23 year old ex Blackpool keeper joins Town
Micky Mellon continues the work of building his squad with the addition of 23 year old keeper Mark Halstead.
Mark is a product of the Blackpool youth set-up and has spent all of his career with the Tangerines, making one appearance in the Premier League and one in the Carling Cup. He's had spells out on loan at a number of clubs and after being released by Blackpool at the end of last season is now looking forward to the next challenge in his career.
Talks have been ongoing for a while but everything was sorted this afternoon and Mark put pen to paper on a two year deal at the club.
ShrewsWeb grabbed a quick word with Mark about his career and his hopes for the move to the Greenhous Meadow.
“At the end of last season Blackpool decided not to keep me on which was a bit of a shock.”, he said.
“With Matt Williams coming to Shrewsbury he's put a word in for me with the manager and him, Jacko and Danny Coyne have done a bit of digging on me.
“It's taken a little time but I'm glad to finally have it all sorted and glad to be at the Shrewsbury.”
Mark had been to the Greenhous Meadow on a couple of occasions for talks and has been impressed with what he's seen and the set-up at the club:”It looks to be a brilliantly run club and compared to Blackpool it seems to be much more professional and looks to be a club going places.
“Obviously relegation wasn't ideal but with the way the managers thinking and the philosophy he's got on the game I fully expect us to be challenging for promotion.”
Shrewsbury Town has a long line of decent young keepers coming through ranks with the likes of Glyn Thompson, Mason Springthorpe and Joe Hart. Mark is hoping that he can grab the new opportunity and do well at Town:”I was lucky enough to work with Joe Hart a number of times and hope that I can be another of the line of good keepers to be at the club.
“I know there are already a couple of good young keepers here and I look forward to working with them.”
Having turned pro in 2009 Mark has only a handful of appearances under his belt but he believes it is now time for him to turn his potential into first team games:”Being open and honest I should have made a lot more appearances than I have to date.
“It's down to me to change that now, I've come here to battle out for the number 1 shirt.
“Everyone knows the potential that I have got but it's now down to me prove that I can do it.
“I need to put everything into the training sessions and into the games that I hopefully get to play.
“I had the chance to play in the Premier League while at Blackpool and that was great experience as were the Championship campaigns, but my focus now is all about Shrewsbury Town and getting us back into League 1.”
Whenever a player moves clubs they will take advice from fellow pro's and in Matt Gilks there was experience of the club. Gilks joined Town in November 2008 on loan and he believes it's the right move for Mark:”Matt was one of the people I first contacted when the possibility of the move came about.
“He was here on loan and when I met him last week he said it was a brilliant place to be and he loved every minute of his time while he was here.
“He was fully behind me making the move and together we decided that it is the best step for me now at this time in my career.
“I came down last week and met Danny Coyne and we have a chat about what he expects from me and what I expect from him. We seem to be on the same page, he seems to be a great guy and I'm really looking forward to working with him and the other keepers.”
The focus now is the start of pre-season training at the end of June and the work before them to get the fitness levels back up:”No one looks forward to pre-season but it will be a bit different now with a fresh start and a fresh challenge.
“I'll spend the time now making sure that I get as fit as I can between holidays.
“It will be a bit gruelling but everyone is now looking forward to the hard work and getting games under their belts to get the fitness.”