MATT Gilks hasn’t ruled out signing a new contract with Blackpool – but says he won’t get a deal anywhere unless he starts playing again.
The Seasiders stopper is set to play 45 minutes for the reserves tonight against Wolves, coming on at half-time for Paul Rachubka.
Gilks has not figured in a first team game since breaking his kneecap at West Ham in November.
He had hoped to return at Fulham this Sunday but realises that may be too soon.
The Arsenal game on Sunday week is more realistic but he will have to battle his way past Richard Kingson, Mark Halstead and the fit-again Rachubka to win back his place.
Gilks is a free agent in the summer and it has been widely assumed he would be leaving Bloomfield Road.
However, he said: “I think in the next month there will be a lot of people waiting to see where we are with the results.
“The most important thing for this football club is staying in the league, not Matt Gilks’ contract.
“So if we can secure our status in the league, which is what everyone wants, then we can sit down after that and see what is said.
“But I need to be playing to either earn a new contract, which hasn’t arrived yet or been talked about, or get another club, wherever that might be. So it is in my best interests to simply get back playing. I’ve been out far too long now.
“I’m really hurting inside because I’ve not been a part of what I work for every day in training.”
The injury which has destroyed Gilks’ season was all the more frustrating because he was playing so well. He was linked with Arsenal and Manchester City, and was called up by Scotland.
“I was probably in the form of my career, playing as well as I ever have done,” added the 28-year-old.
“Going up to the Premier League you are never quite sure how you’ll cope, but I took to it better than I thought I would and things were going really well.
“That’s why it has been so disappointing to have missed the last 15 games or so. I’ve also missed out on some big Scotland games. It would have been nice to be involved against Brazil at the Emirates last weekend.
“But first and foremost I want to get fit for my club. That’s more important and that’s where I earn my corn, so hopefully I’ll be back soon.”
Gilks, who suffered a calf strain in his comeback game for the reserves a fortnight ago, added: “The knee has been fine for six weeks. It is just a case of getting the muscle back on the rest of the leg now.