Blackpool boss Simon Grayson welcomes goalkeepers' competition but won't have a number one

Mark Howard made his first Blackpool appearance since March against Wolves U21 on Tuesday
Mark Howard made his first Blackpool appearance since March against Wolves U21 on Tuesday
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Simon Grayson says he’s never had a number one goalkeeper at any of his previous clubs and Blackpool is no different.

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It comes after Mark Howard returned to first-team action following a seven-month lay-off by keeping a clean sheet in Tuesday night’s last-gasp EFL Trophy win against Wolves’ Under-21s.

It was the goalkeeper’s first start of the season in Blackpool colours and came on the back of his successful emergency loan spell with Salford City.

He now has a tough ask on his hands to unseat Jak Alnwick, who is the only player to have played every minute of every League One game for the Seasiders so far this season.

But Grayson says it is now down to the 33-year-old to push Alnwick every day in training.

On Howard’s midweek display, Grayson told The Gazette: “He had the post save him a couple of times, but he was calm and his kicking was good. He didn’t have too many saves to make.

“When we brought him back on Sunday night/Monday morning, the intention was always to play him in this game and not have him cup-tied for the weekend, then we’d assess the situation after that.

“I’m pleased with him, and it was a nice clean sheet for him and all of the lads in front of him as well.

“He’s certainly there to be competing with Jak, without a shadow of a doubt.

“I’ve always throughout my career as a manager, had two or three good goalkeepers. I’ve never had a number one.

“I want them to be pushing each other in training every day and making each other better to get the best out of them on match day.

“I want all the players, irrespective of their position, to be looking over their shoulder to make sure they raise their game as that will only benefit the team.”

Howard has only recently returned to full fitness after a lengthy absence, which came after the keeper was sidelined following surgery earlier in the year.

That was as a result of Howard rupturing his Achilles against Burton Albion in March.