SERGEI Kornilenko has been assured he can play a key role in the Seasiders’ Premier League run-in – despite being hauled off early at Wolves.
The Belarus striker was substituted before the half-hour mark at Molineux as a frustrated Ian Holloway tinkered with his formation.
It was nothing personal against Kornilenko. Even so, it wasn’t a pleasant moment for the on-loan 27-year-old and a stark contrast to his home debut against Tottenham last Tuesday, when he played a major part in the first two goals and left the field to a standing ovation.
At Wolves, though, it didn’t go quite according to plan.
“I took him off for tactical reasons. I didn’t think my centre forwards were in the right place, both James Beattie and Sergei,” said Holloway. “It was killing us, so I had to do something.
“Obviously his fitness would have run out in the second half anyway. He is only 60 per cent fit and he looked a little jaded.
“But for a bit of understanding of what I needed at that point in the game, I had to take off the one who doesn’t speak any English.
“It was nothing to do with how Sergei was playing. He hit some nice passes to be fair.”
Holloway had always warned fans to be patient with Kornilenko, who was still in pre-season at Zenit St Petersburg before joining Pool on loan.
Besides fitness issues, he also has to learn the Seasiders’ style of play.
“He usually likes to go up the middle and he isn’t used to the wide role I’ve used him in,” added Holloway.
“I felt Wolves were very dangerous from the wide areas and unfortunately we didn’t deal with them anywhere near well enough.
“When you let a goal in after two minutes, what on earth do I do? I changed the formation and put Sylvestre out wide and DJ and Beattie up the middle.
“Luke Varney is better out there than Kornilenko, so that was why I made the substitution.”
However, Holloway remains convinced that Kornilenko will prove an inspired addition to the squad.
“The lad is amazing. If you tied a two-ton truck to the back of him he would keep going,” added the boss.
“His attitude is outstanding and he is even managing some banter. He’s picking the odd word up and it’s as funny as hell.
“I am delighted we’ve got him and I think the fitter he gets, the better his performances will be.”