BILLY Clarke proved he has lost none of his zest by making an impressive Seasiders return after eight months out with a serious knee injury.
The striker came on as a second half substitute for Blackpool Reserves in last night’s 2-1 home defeat by Wolves and caught the eye with some nifty touches and lovely passing.
Clarke showed the kind of clever play that was a feature of his game before his Premier League campaign was brought to a cruel halt before it had even started, the Irishman rupturing his cruciate ligament in a July friendly in Devon.
It has been a long and frustrating road but the 23-year-old, who has spent the last eight months doing rehabilitation work, is finally OK to play again. His aim now is to prove his fitness and win back his first-team place next term.
Clarke wasn’t the only Seasider making a welcome return.
Matt Gilks played the second half and came through with no ill effects – unlike the recent reserve game at Chelsea, where he was forced off with a calf strain in the first few minutes.
With Paul Rachubka playing the first 45 minutes, Pool suddenly have four fit keepers, though Richard Kingson is expected to keep his place at Fulham on Sunday, despite a difficult afternoon at Blackburn last time out.
James Beattie scored the Seasiders’ goal last night, converting a neat lob with the contest barely 15 seconds old. Neal Eardley, in good form, created the goal with a terrific pass.
But second half strikes from Adele Guedioura and Nathan Rooney sealed victory for Wolves.
Pool: Rachubka (Gilks 45), Eardley, Basham, Sbai, Coid, Southern, Sylvestre, Martin, Phillips, Beattie, Ormerod.