MATTY Phillips admits next season is when he hopes to truly shine as a Seasider – but he’d love to make a big impact in the final five games of this one.
The winger has been talked up as a star of the future by boss Ian Holloway but has found his starting opportunities limited.
Phillips has made 20 appearances from the bench this season but just four starts.
Having only turned 20 last month, Phillips knows time is on his side and he isn’t too frustrated by his lack of chances.
However, he admits he is desperate to feature in the final five matches, beginning with Saturday’s pivotal home match with Newcastle.
Phillips said: “I would love to play a big part in the last five games but I’m not the only one – everybody is pushing and working hard in training.
“Everyone in the squad wants to start and that is good. It is what we need at this time – everyone together and trying to keep us up.
“Maybe I’ve not started as much as I’d have liked but this is my first season in the Premier League.
“So although I’m a little disappointed, I’ve got to be realistic. I was playing in League Two for Wycombe at the start of the season, so I know I’ve come a long way in a short space of time. I’m still young and I’ve got so much to learn.
“Next season is huge for me – that’s when I really want to make an impact and try to become a regular.
“At the moment, I am just happy to be in and around it, and as long as the gaffer still wants me in the squad I will be more than happy to contribute in whatever way I can.”
Phillips has become a big crowd favourite since his early-season switch from Wycombe for £350,000.
The England Under 20 star made an instant impact, scoring on his debut at home to Blackburn in September, and has caught the eye ever since with his pace and skill on the flank.
“It was a massive moment for me to score that goal,” he added. “Nobody really knew anything about me before that, so to come on and show everyone I’ve got a bit of skill was great.
“I didn’t expect to get in the team every week just because I scored that goal. Football is up and down and I knew it was going to be tough, especially with me being new to the level.”