Blackpool skipper Jay Spearing an inspiration for fellow Liverpool graduate Matty Virtue

Matty Virtue celebrates his goal at Sunderland with Jay Spearing
Matty Virtue celebrates his goal at Sunderland with Jay Spearing
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Matty Virtue is relishing his run in the Blackpool team and says he is benefitting greatly from playing alongside fellow Anfield graduate Jay Spearing.

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The 22-year-old made his 17th appearance of the season and scored his third Blackpool goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

Like Spearing, Virtue came through the system at Liverpool and the Seasiders skipper is proving the perfect mentor in Matty’s first full season in League football.

Virtue said: “I had a setback in pre-season, picking up an injury, and then when I came back the lads in front of me were doing well, so it was difficult.

“But since I’ve come back in I feel as though I’ve got fitter, I’ve got stronger, I’m finding my feet again and showing what I can do.

“Playing alongside Jay (Spearing), he’s always going to sit deep and hold, and he’ll move the ball around.

“He talks you through games and that’s massive for a young player like me. It’s a great experience playing with him. I’m really enjoying it.”

Virtue gave the Seasiders the lead after just four minutes at the Stadium of Light, taking his goal tally to six since joining the club in January.

He added :“It just came back to me on the edge of the box and I sidefooted it. As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance.

“The keeper has tried to get near it but didn’t and it gave us the perfect start to the game really.

“But after getting that early goal we sat back a bit, when really we wanted to be on the front foot and getting back at them.

“We’d been saying during the week that we needed to dominate the ball because the crowd would turn on them and we can use that to our advantage.

“It was massive whoever got that next goal. Unfortunately Armand (Gnanduillet) got in the way of James Husband’s shot. If that had gone in I think that would have completely turned the crowd.

“Instead they got straight back in the game, which was disappointing.”

Asked if he now has a goal target for the season, Virtue said: “I’m happy to get on the scoresheet when I can.

“I would say I’d like double figures, but I think that with the chances I’ve had this season I could have nearly been in double figures already.

“But you can’t score them all, so hopefully I’ll just get as many as I can.”

Virtue feels it is a sign of the spirit and the standards within the fifth-placed Seasiders’ camp that a draw at Sunderland no longer satisfies them.

He said: “It’s a good point but we wanted more. I think the fact we’ve come away disappointed we didn’t get more shows where we’re at.

“I think we were the better team but we didn’t quite get it together in the final third.

“The way we’ve been playing – we’ve beaten Peterborough and Fleetwood at home – we came to Sunderland feeling we were the better side.”