Crossley returns to Britannia

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STOKE CITY have taken goalkeeper Mark Crossley back on loan from Premiership side Middlesbrough.

The 33-year-old joins the Britannia Stadium outfit for a month and is expected to go into The Potters` line-up for Saturday's trip to Ipswich Town, as Stoke aim to avoid relegation back to Division Two.

The Welsh custodian is keen for some first team action, in order to help boost his chances of being called back into Mark Hughes' Wales squad.

In his previous spell at Stoke, Crossley played just one match for Tony Pulis' side against Gillingham in November before Boro manager Steve McClaren recalled him following an injury to number one Mark Schwarzer.

Crossley will provide competition for places with the West Midlands club, with Neil Cutler already on loan at Division Three strugglers Swansea City.

"We are delighted to get Mark back," Stoke's director of football John Rudge told the club's official website.

"It was unfortunate that he was recalled so quickly last time due to circumstances beyond our control but we are grateful for Middlesbrough's co-operation once again.

"Mark is a very experienced goalkeeper who will add a lot to our squad."

Meanwhile, young midfielder Lewis Neal has extended his contract with the Division One strugglers by putting pen-to-paper on a new two-year deal.

The 21-year-old will now stay with The Potters until 2005, with the former trainee close to completing his third season as a professional at the club.

"We are pleased Lewis has agreed this new deal," added Rudge.

"He is very much an up-and-coming youngster and one for the future who is very highly-regarded by manager Tony Pulis."