Kilkenny joining City’s A-list

Neil Kilkenny has joined Melbourne City
Neil Kilkenny has joined Melbourne City
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Former Preston North End midfielder Neil Kilkenny has headed Down Under for the latest chapter in his career.

He has signed a two-year deal with Melbourne City, having been a free agent after being released by PNE in May.

Melbourne are part of the City Football Group together with Manchester City and New York City.

Kilkenny had his medical at Manchester City’s training academy last week and then flew to Australia on Monday to link-up with Melbourne.

Born in England, he moved with his family to Australia as a child before returning to this country a few years later.

He spent two-and-a-half years with Preston, joining on loan from Bristol City in November 2013.

That was made permanent two months later, with him moving on a free transfer.

Kilkenny played 96 games for North End, including the Wembley play-off final win over Swindon in May last year.

Reflecting on his time in England, the 30-year-old picked that game out as one of his highlights.

Said Kilkenny: “I got the chance to play in the Premier League with Birmingham and then played at Leeds, who are such a big club.

“I have good memories of Preston getting promoted at Wembley.”

Kilkenny spent much of last season sat on PNE’s bench, and made only eight starts in league and cup.

He did score a contender for goal of the season though, a screamer from 25 yards in a 1-1 draw with Bristol City.

His last appearance was in the Boxing Day 3-1 defeat at Huddersfield.

Kilkenny admitted a return to Australia to play in the A-League was something that had appealed for some time.

Said Kilkenny: “I have been working and living in England for a long time, so when this chance came up I thought, ‘Why not’?

“This was something I had been thinking about for a few years.

“I could have stayed in my comfort zone in England but I’m looking forward to this new challenge and adventure.

“Maybe in England I was not too happy with how the game is played.

“It is more of an aggressive style and a battling game.

“Things are more tactical here in a sense of keeping the ball and working your position.

“I feel that will suit my game a lot more and hopefully I will be successful here and the team will be successful.

“In the last couple of years I have been in my best physical shape fitness-wise and I feel I have got many years to give.”

Now that Kilkenny has got this move, it means four of the seven players released by PNE at the end last season have found new clubs.

Chris Kirkland joined Bury last month, striker Jack Ryan has signed for Bradford Park Avenue and Nick Anderton penned a two-year contract at Barrow.

Josh Heaton has turned out for Bamber Bridge in some of their pre-season games but has also had a trial at Reading’s academy.

Kyel Reid and Andy Little have yet to get fixed up.