WES Thomas has a message for Ian Holloway: “I’m back”.
The Blackpool loan striker scored his first goal for the club in Saturday’s 4-1 win at Peterborough.
He looks set to keep his place in the starting line-up this weekend against Crystal Palace, who are now managed by the man who once told him he wasn’t good enough.
Thomas was hoping to make the grade at QPR when Holloway called him into the office and said he was to be released. And the 25-year-old, on loan from Bournemouth, finally has the chance to prove his old boss wrong.
Thomas said: “Ian Holloway is the one who released me when I was at QPR, so Saturday is a game I’m really looking forward to. It’s my chance to show Holloway I’m back.
“I was a scholar at QPR and after my second year he released me. As a young player, you don’t want to hear that.
“I was devastated. You think, ‘Is there a career for me?’”
After his release, Thomas dropped out of professional football and spent years scoring goals in non-league.
He went back to college to study media before getting his break with Cheltenham in 2010.
And two years later he’s made it to the Championship. “I sort of dropped out of football, but I’ve worked myself back up now and hopefully that will continue,” he said.
“It’s difficult when you’re released and I took it quite hard. I thought I had to look at other options, so I dropped into non-league and studied at the same time.
“I was still playing and was impressing, and the opportunity eventually came to turn pro again.”
When injuries to Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Matt Phillips left Pool boss Michael Appleton short of options in attack, he raised a few eyebrows ahead of the loan deadline by swooping for a player out of favour in League One. Thomas sees this move as a huge chance and can’t speak highly enough of Appleton.
He added: “It’s a massive boost to have a manager who believes in you and is willing to give you that opportunity. From the first day, he told me to do what I do.”
Thomas replaced Kevin Phillips in the starting line-up. And although he is full of respect for the goalscoring legend, Thomas is in no rush to give him his place back. Kev’s been scoring for fun all his career, so I was surprised to be picked ahead of him,” he said.
“But once you get that chance as a professional you have to take it. It’s just about working hard. I’ve got this opportunity and hopefully I cankeep my place in the team.”