MATT Gilks today began his comeback in earnest – even if it did mean one of the earliest starts of his life.
Keeper Gilks, along with the rest of the Blackpool Reserves squad, met at Bloomfield Road at 6.30am for the coach trip to Chelsea.
Pool’s second string face the champions’ reserves at the Chelsea training ground at 2pm – hence the early start.
And although Gilks may be unhappy at losing a few hours sleep, he won’t mind if he gets through the 90 minutes and puts himself into contention for a role against Blackburn on Saturday. It is the keeper’s first competitive match since a broken kneecap forced him off at half-time at West Ham in November.
And if he comes through with no ill effects, he will hope to be in the squad for Ewood Park.
Gilks said: “I’m feeling good, and I’m slowly building up my fitness and getting closer all the time.
“It has taken a little bit longer than I expected but I’ve been back in full training for the last fortnight. If Chelsea goes OK I’ll hopefully be in contention for the Blackburn game.
“I definitely want to play. I’ve sat out long enough and it has been frustrating.”
Sergei Kornlineko, who scored the winner against Manchester United Reserves last Wednesday, also starts today as does winger Matt Phillips.
French midfielder Malaury Martin will be given his second run-out after a knee injury and Chris Basham, looking good after his broken leg, is in the centre of defence.
Charlie Adam played in last week’s reserve game to sharpen up after his two-game ban but won’t be involved today.
Ian Holloway is glad he gave his skipper a run out. The manager said: “He wanted to play for the reserves last week. I am glad we played him because he looked a little rusty and that will have blown the cobwebs out of his system.
“If you have a decent car and you leave it in the garage for too long, it may not run as smoothly as normal the first couple of times you start it.
“Now Charlie has warmed up, hopefully he will be ready to face Blackburn, if I pick him.”