Latics see Pool’s strength in depth

Blackpool's Mark Halstead

Blackpool's Mark Halstead

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IAN Holloway was handed a timely reminder of the strength of his squad yesterday as a Pool XI beat Wigan.

A very strong line-up, featuring Kirk Broadfoot, Ian Evatt and Angel Martinez, made light work of Roberto Martinez’s young side in a behind-closed-doors match.

First-half goals from Scott Robertson, Ludo Sylvestre and Elliot Grandin secured a 3-0 in a game watched by both managers.

The match, scheduled to be staged at Bloomfield Road, was switched to the club’s training ground at the last minute after a downpour.

One player benefiting from such games is second-choice keeper Mark Halstead.

The 21-year-old is an ever-present on Pool’s bench these days as back-up for Matt Gilks.

And he sees a huge difference between matches like yesterday’s and the reserves’ fixtures of the past.

Halstead said: “When started playing reserve games, we played a mixture of old pros who weren’t really too interested and young lads trying to force their way through. With these games now, everyone is at a similar level and they are a good test.

“Last week we played Man United and Burnley, and this week Crewe and Wigan. We have to treat them like first-team games because we never know when we’re going to be called upon.”

Halstead has had to be patient at Bloomfield Road. His only league appearance was as a sub against Chelsea during the Premier League season. But at the moment, he’s just happy to be involved in a winning squad.

He said: “The team have started very well – three wins out of the first four is a great start and long may it continue.

“I’m sure the boys will keep working hard and hopefully it will continue for the rest of the season.

“It’s nice to be involved in the first-team games, and I’m pleased the manager has shown faith in me by not bringing anyone else in. It’s given me great confidence.

“I had a good chat with the manager at the start of the season. He told me what he thought of me, what I could be doing and how well I’d started pre-season.”