GARY Taylor-Fletcher believes the Seasiders have a vital advantage over their relegation rivals – they get better backing from their fans than anyone else.
The frontman made a successful return after a hamstring problem in Blackpool Reserves’ 2-1 win over Manchester United at Bloomfield Road on Wednesday.
Charlie Adam and Elliot Grandin also played the whole game.
Taylor-Fletcher is now focused on first-team matters and admits he is “champing at the bit” to start the big Lancashire derby at Blackburn on Saturday week.
He believes three points from the next three games – the trips to Rovers and Fulham are followed by a home clash with Arsenal – would represent a good return.
That would set Pool up for consecutive Bloomfield Road showdowns with Wigan, Newcastle and Stoke, which Taylor-Fletcher says will be key.
Birmingham’s 1-1 draw at Everton last night reduced Pool’s advantage over the bottom three to a single point.
But Taylor-Fletcher remains confident of beating the drop, especially with the support Pool receive.
The 29-year-old said: “The fans are going to play a massive part because, unlike maybe a few other clubs, we know they will be right behind us when we need them. The lads are already talking about the home games against Wigan, Newcastle and Stoke next month. They could define our season.
“The nice things is that even if we go behind, we know our crowd will keep supporting us and their cheering will help us come back.
“They have been fantastic all season, so I can’t see there being a problem with that. We’re lucky at this club that they always back us and that will help us no end.
“I think three points from the next three games would be good. It would take us to 35 points and we’d have three massive home games after that, starting with Wigan. We are capable of getting a result against them, so it is in our own hands really.
“It is going to tight, though. West Ham and West Brom are looking good and the points total we have now would have been enough to keep us up last year.
“No team is running away with the league at the top and no team has dropped off at the bottom either. I think it will be a high total to stay up.”
Taylor-Fletcher has missed the last four games after getting injured in the final moments of a training session the day before last month’s home draw with Aston Villa.
He added: “I had a tear in my hamstring and it affected my hip as well. It took a few weeks to get right.
“It was frustrating for me because I was in a good run of form, playing week in, week out and enjoying it. The results weren’t going brilliantly but we were playing well as a team.
“That’s the reason I’m confident about us staying up: we have a team which will score goals and will win games. Some teams are struggling to score goals and if you don’t score but we know we’ll score – we’ve done it in every home game this season, and in the Premier League that’s not a bad record.”
Taylor-Fletcher was pleased to come through his reserves run-out without any problems.
“It was enjoyable and I was just glad to get back out and kick a ball,” he said. “I needed a game.
“However hard you work on the training ground, you need to play a few games to get that extra bit of fitness and it will hopefully pay dividends.
“I would love to play against Blackburn and it would be fantastic if the gaffer puts me in.
“The 90 minutes against United Reserves has been a big boost. I am champing at the bit to start and try to help this club stay in the Premier League.”
The 90 minutes also sharpened Adam up after missing the last two matches through suspension, while Grandin proved he is over his recent hamstring troubles.
Luke Varney got a welcome goal – he hasn’t scored for the first team since November and has been relegated to the bench for the last couple of games – before Sergei Kornilenko sealed the victory after good work by Matty Phillips.
A larger than usual crowd of almost 700 watched yesterday’s contest as well as 25 scouts.
Manager Ian Holloway spent much of the contest in the dugout and declared himself pleased with the performance.