Matty Virtue of Blackpool looking forward to first Football League Christmas

Matty Virtue challenges Chris Maguire at Sunderland
Matty Virtue challenges Chris Maguire at Sunderland
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The rigours of the festive season don’t worry Blackpool’s Matty Virtue, who is relishing his first Christmas as a Football League player.

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The 22-year-old joined the Seasiders from Liverpool at the end of January and made his 25th League One appearance in last weekend’s draw at Sunderland, where he scored his fifth league goal for the club.

He had signed for then League Two club Notts County the previous January on a half-season loan but Virtue is yet to experience the hectic Christmas rush, which sees the Seasiders face four games in the next 12 days.

But that doesn’t faze a player who has established himself in Simon Grayson’s starting line-up and would be happy to stay there throughout the festive period.

Virtue said: “This is actually my first Christmas in the Football League, so I’ll probably be able to tell you more about it in January but I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s just a case of playing a game, recover, playing another game and then recover again, so it’s a massive period for us.

“Looking at the fixtures we have, if we can win the games we should be winning we will be right up there.”

In fact little seems a worry a player who walked out in front of a 30,500 crowd at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light last weekend without fear.

“I think it’s the fourth time I’ve played there,” added Virtue, who put the visitors ahead inside four minutes.

“I’ve played in it when it’s empty and when there have been a few people in. But Saturday was a good atmosphere and for all the lads.

“These are the type of games we want to be playing in.

“It gets the adrenaline going and it’s just unfortunate we didn’t come away with three points.”

Charlie Wyke equalised for the Black Cats before half-time and Virtue added: “That was massively disappointing. I thought set-pieces were their only threat really.

“They had a few corners and looked dangerous from them. They hit the bar but I don’t think Jak Alnwick has had a save to make.

“To draw to a set-piece goal is really disappointing because we pride ourselves on being strong in that area.”

Now the fifth-placed Seasiders are back at Bloomfield Road for successive home games against Shrewsbury Town tomorrow and Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day.

And Virtue added: “I think we’ve had a lot of home games recently and we’ve come out of them pretty positively.

“We’re still on a good unbeaten run (seven games in the league, stretching back more than two months). We would have liked three points at Sunderland but the longer this run goes on the better.”