GARY Taylor-Fletcher has revealed he actually passed a fitness test before the Wembley final – but the manager wouldn’t risk him.
Taylor-Fletcher admitted, though, that he couldn’t argue with Ian Holloway’s decision, as it would have been too much of a gamble putting him in from the start.
The frontman was devastated at missing what would have been one of the biggest games of his life.
He suffered an ankle injury in training on Thursday, just minutes before the team departed for London.
The 30-year-old underwent intensive treatment for 48 hours in a bid to make the match.
Holloway won’t have taken the decision to leave Taylor-Fletcher out lightly. The manager was loathe to change an 11, which had beaten Birmingham over two legs and was unbeaten in nine games.
But, as Taylor-Fletcher admitted, it was the sensible call.
“It is so annoying because it was such an innocuous thing. went up for a header in training on Thursday morning, and as I came down, I landed funny on someone’s boot and my ankle was like a balloon,” he said.
“When it happened I didn’t think I’d have any chance at all, but myself and the two physios – Phil Horner and Alan Bent – have been working hard.
“I had a fitness test on Saturday morning, and I came through it OK.
“But to be honest about five minutes later, it was like a balloon again, so there was still that doubt that if after five minutes I landed funny again, or got a kick on it, I’d have to come off.
“It was a risk and in a massive game like a play-off final, you can’t afford to take risks.
“So the gaffer made the decision and it probably was the right one because after 10 minutes we could have been a man down with a sub on.”
Asked how he felt, Taylor-Fletcher replied: “It is devastating. I am absolutely gutted as you’d expect.
“It is hard to put into words how devastated I am… after the season we’ve had, for it to end like that, for both me and the team – absolutely horrible.
“But what more can you do? I tried my hardest to be fit, but at the end of the day there were 11 good lads out there. We had the chances, we could have won, but unfortunately it wasn’t our day.
“But I’ll tell you this. Watching the lads out there, the football we played was absolutely unbelievable, and I now know why Blackpool fans absolutely love watching us because when we are on the form, the way we play is top class.
“The lads can be proud of their efforts and on another day it would have been enough to win and get promotion.”