GARY Taylor-Fletcher insists Blackpool will be stronger for missing out on promotion.
The Seasiders striker is about to embark on a holiday to put his feet up after a long season, which ended in play-off heartbreak.
Taylor-Fletcher was more disappointed than most, ruled out of the Wembley final on the morning of the game with an ankle injury.
He had to watch the defeat to West Ham from the back of the dugout, dressed in a suit rather than kit, and his face was a picture of misery as he wandered on to the pitch at the full-time whistle to console his devastated team-mates.
But Taylor-Fletcher, who has played in the top six divisions of English football and has more know-how and experience than most, believes there will be good times ahead – even if it hurts like hell at the moment.
“Everyone was devastated afterwards, of course they were – what else would you expect?” said Taylor-Fletcher (pictured right).
“We can’t help think what could have been and that is still the case.
“But we did it last year, we picked ourselves up after relegation from the Premier League, and we will have to do it again.
“We will be stronger for not going up this year and as long as we can keep this squad together again and add a few more, then we have a great chance to be pushing even higher up the table next year.”
Taylor-Fletcher says he is in urgent need of a breather, if only to get rid of a few aches and pains that he has suffered throughout what turned out to be a long campaign.
A back problem in particular, which he picked up in the first half of the season, has been causing him difficulty.
He plans to work hard over the summer, strengthen key muscles, and try to ensure his body is in better shape next year to cope with the rigours of what is bound to be another tough Championship campaign.
“Although we will be having a rest, I know myself personally that I will be doing a lot of things to get in a bit better shape and hopefully I can come back how I did at the beginning of last season,” he said.
“I got this back injury earlier in the season and I was just gutted about that because it has hampered me all year.
“The best shape I’ve ever been in was going into that first Premier League game against Wigan a couple of years back. That is the kind of shape I want to be in come the first game next season and hopefully I can be at my very best.
“All the lads will feel the same but it has been a very long season, so they do need a good rest first.
“But then I can assure you that we will pick ourselves up from the Wembley disappointment and come back even stronger and better next year.
“That is what we do at this club.”
Taylor-Fletcher will have one fixture in particular to look forward to next season – a meeting with his old club Huddersfield.
He joined the Seasiders from the Galpharm Stadium in 2007 but maintains a great fondness for his former team and was delighted they clinched promotion to the Championship at Wembley on Saturday, beating Sheffield United on penalties.
“I am really chuffed for Huddersfield,” said Taylor-Fletcher.
“They are a great club, I loved my time there, and I am looking forward to playing them next year.”