Blackpool trio earn Gary Bowyer’s praise ahead of Bradford City meeting

Blackpool keeper Mark Howard
Blackpool keeper Mark Howard
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Gary Bowyer has revealed Blackpool goalkeeper Mark Howard was the first name he included when asked to fill in League One’s Team of the Year form.

Just a week into his new job at Bradford City, who take on the Seasiders this afternoon at Valley Parade, Bowyer was asked by the EFL to nominate this season’s most impressive performers.

Howard, a Bowyer signing in pre-season, was included alongside Blackpool team-mates Curtis Tilt and Jay Spearing.

Following his departure one game into the campaign, former colleague Terry McPhillips has guided the Seasiders to ninth place in League One.

When asked if he’s surprised by Pool’s successful season, Bowyer told The Gazette: “I’m not at all surprised, that’s why we brought those new players in.

“Unfortunately Mark has suffered an injury, but what a signing he’s turned out to be. But we knew that when we were bringing him in.

“A week into the job at Bradford they asked me to fill in the Player of the Year and Team of the Year for the EFL, which I found quite entertaining.

“Howard was the first one I put down, same with Jay Spearing and Curtis Tilt. They’ve been magnificent for Blackpool this year.

“Expectations got raised and for them to be where they are now, they’ve done brilliantly.

“But it just shows you those one or two who are moaning about recent results, just hold fire a little bit and have a look at everything else that has gone off and everyone else’s budget.

“They should recognise what a great achievement it’s been for the club so far. They’ve not had the benefit of having millions spent.”

During Bowyer’s two-and-a-half year spell at Bloomfield Road, he never got to witness a packed ground due to the fans’ boycott.

That has since been lifted, with more than 15,000 Pool fans packing out the stadium for the homecoming clash against Southend United.

Bowyer added: “I used to stand in that technical area and I would look over to that far side and we could see you eating your pie and your crisps because there was no one else around.

“But when I saw the pictures and one or two videos on Twitter (of the homecoming), it was fantastic for the football club because it’s such a historic club.

“It’s such a great buzz for the town. Any player or member of the coaching staff will tell you, to see your own stadium bouncing and full is great.”