Gilks’ plea to goalkeeping rival

Mark Howard
Mark Howard
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MATT Gilks says he hopes goalkeeping rival Mark Howard will stay at Blackpool – but it doesn’t look likely.

Howard is still stalling over signing a new deal and is rumoured to be in talks with Fleetwood Town, among others.

Gilks is back in goal after five games out injured and says he would like Howard, who impressed greatly in his absence, to agree a contract extension.

The Pool No.1 said: “Mark was great while I was out. Obviously the adrenaline was pumping for him and he was buzzing about playing for a Championship club.

“He did really well and it makes you think there must be other players out there, like Mark, who have been released by clubs when they shouldn’t have been (Aberdeen released Howard in the summer). People have let players like that go and we’ve taken advantage.

“I don’t know what his situation is at the minute but hopefully he can get it resolved and stay at the club. I would like him to stay.”

Asked if he needed the competition to keep him on his toes, Gilks replied: “To be honest, no. I’m not one that needs competition – it is all personal with me.

“I could have anyone behind me – Mark Howard, Mark Halstead, Peter Schmeichel – or no-one at all. It is all about doing the best I can and being as good as I can be all the time.

“I know how hard I work, what I do with (goalkeeping coach) George Wood and what I do away from the club. I don’t need anyone pushing me.”

Gilks suffered a tear in his abdomen/groin just before Christmas but was passed fit for Saturday’s win over Crystal Palace.

Howard’s outstanding form meant manager Ian Holloway had a decision to make over who to pick, though Gilks was pretty confident he’d get the nod.

The 29-year-old added: “After the performances I put in during the first half of the season, and what I’d done in previous years, I think I had done enough to make the manager aware of what I can do.

“I know Mark did tremendously well, but I liked to think that as soon as I was fit I’d get back in – and the manager obviously felt the same.”