IAN Holloway is already resigned to losing Matt Phillips before too long – despite the winger starting only four games this season.
The Seasiders boss is certain he has signed a lad who will go on to become one of the best players in the country.
And although 19-year-old Phillips has had to make do with appearances from off the bench for most of the campaign, Holloway has no doubts the winger will be a huge Premier League success.
“With his ability and the fantastic end product that we will, in time, see on a regular basis, I’ve no hesitation in saying that he will be a top, top player,” said Holloway.
“In fact, I don’t anticipate him being with us that long, because I have seen things in him you see at the top clubs in the world.
“The players at the top clubs have the same sort of talent and attributes Matty has. The boy has frightening potential.
“There is no limit to it.
“He’s surprised me already with how well he has done, and the impact he has made.
“Long-term, I’ve no doubts he will be in someone’s team every week, and the media will be talking about him as the next big England thing.
“To say I feel like we have won the lottery by signing him is not an understatement.
“And best thing of all, is that the lad is a breath of fresh air.
“He played for the reserves on Wednesday, and who was in the next morning wanting to train? Matty.
“He shouldn’t have been but he – along with Andy Reid – turned up asking if they could train.
“As a manager that is exactly what you want, and you know you’ve got a good lad on your hand when that happens.”
Phillips has caught the eye every time he’s been on the pitch, but Holloway is being careful to properly manage the teenager’s development.
And the boss has also yet to decide which is Phillips’ best position.
He arrived from League Two Wycombe in August as a winger, but Holloway reckons the right-back role might just best suit him.
“You look at what Ashley Cole has achieved as a left-back, and he was a winger when he first went to Arsenal,” said the boss.
“If you think about all the best teams in the world, what are their full-backs like? Have a look at Barcelona, with Dani Alves.
“What Matt has to do is learn to defend, because Alves can defend.
“Maicon is meant to be one of the best, but look at what Gareth Bale did to him.
“Maybe Matty might have a future as someone like Gareth Bale on the opposite side. His talent is fantastic.
“His physique is fantastic. What we have to give him is the knowledge of what to do and when to do it.
“From that right-back area he is hitting some of the best cross field passes, even better than Charlie Adam
“So he has got an abundance of ability.
“I just need him to settle down, get used to it, and make the right choices. That comes with experience.”
Phillips scored on his debut for Blackpool, against Blackburn.
He is hoping to start his fifth league game of the season at Wolves today.