GOALKEEPING coaches don’t often hog the headlines, but this week Blackpool’s George Wood is receiving a rare public pat on the back.
When Ian Holloway was looking to add a keeper to his squad outside the transfer window, Wood was the man who recommended Mark Howard.
The 25-year-old was out of contract after being released by Aberdeen but Wood knew about him, having briefly worked with him at Cardiff, and advised Holloway to sign him.
That decision paid off on Boxing Day when, after a couple of months warming the bench, Howard was thrust into the spotlight due to an injury to Matt Gilks.
Howard wasn’t fazed, producing a wonderful debut performance at Barnsley to help Pool to a 3-1 victory.
Holloway said: “I have to say well done to George because he found Mark.
“George told me that he had worked with him and that he was good.
“George has made a difference to us this season. I had promised our goalies a good coach because I don’t know a lot about goalkeeping, but in George a good goalkeeping coach is what I’ve managed to get.”
With Gilks still struggling with a groin problem, Howard is again expected to be between the posts when Pool travel to Birmingham tomorrow.
Holloway has no concerns about his replacement keeper and is still shaking his head in disbelief at how well Howard played at Oakwell.
He added: “I’m not saying I’m surprised that Mark played well because I’m not – I know he is a good lad and a good keeper. But he was just immaculate,” said Holloway.
“There was one shot which was drifting into the top corner that would have beaten a lot of people.
“But Mark made the save look easy, with his feet and his movement to get there.
“It looks as if he had been playing in this league for a lifetime.
“It was hard to believe it was his first game for us, so well done to him.
“If Matt is still out and we need Mark again at Birmingham, I would have no qualms whatsoever about playing him again.”