CRAIG Sutherland will complete a whirlwind rise from university student to professional footballer when he leads the attack for Blackpool at Sheffield Wednesday tonight.
The Seasiders could make 11 changes to the side which despatched Hull in the opening game, with summer signings Angel Martinez, Bob Harris, Matt Hill, Gerardo Bruna and Tom Ince all tipped to start.
Like last season, Ian Holloway is focusing on the league and makes no apologies for it.
The pacy Sutherland’s debut will cause the most interest as it will be the 22-year-old’s first ever start in professional football.
Holloway and assistant Steve Thompson have been working hard with the youngster on the training ground.
And despite his rawness and inexperience, Holloway and Thompson reckon Sutherland has a real chance of making it big. The manager said: “Young Craig has done great so far and I’ve been impressed with him. He has pace and runs at players.
“Obviously he has to learn how to be a pro yet, but he has taken to it like a duck to water and I hope he does very well. I think he will.”
Sutherland will definitely start at Hillsborough, quite something given he was studying for his finals in the USA just a couple of months ago.
He signed a two-year deal in the summer after being spotted on a DVD and scored twice in pre-season, including an excellent strike at Sheffield United.
Thompson is also excited by his early impressions of Sutherland, but says it’s important not to put too much pressure on the frontman’s shoulders.
Holloway’s No.2 said: “You judge strikers on how many goals they have scored and at the moment he has two. That is what you get paid for.
“The exciting thing about it is that he has only been with us a short time and we haven’t yet had chance to coach him as much as we’d like, but he has fitted in anyway and done very well.
“It’s important we don’t build him up too much at this stage, though. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him.
“There is a lot to work on and he will be the first to admit that. He will tell you himself that there are things in his game that need to be improved. “But one thing a coach can’t give a player is pace and he has blistering pace.
“He is willing to run at defenders and that will always cause the opposition problems, and he has already shown he can score goals. I’m sure we’ve not seen the best of him yet but we’ve seen glimpses, and good glimpses, of what he can do.