GARY Taylor-Fletcher revealed that Matt Phillips turned to Blackpool’s senior players for advice over his ongoing transfer saga.
The 21-year-old was the subject of a £5m bid from Southampton last week and has submitted a transfer request.
He was left out of the side at Millwall last weekend but returned to the squad on Tuesday, when he answered his critics by coming off the bench to score the winner against Leeds.
And long-serving striker Taylor-Fletcher, who made his 200th appearance for Pool in midweek, says the likes of himself and Kevin Phillips were there to put their arm around the confused striker.
Taylor-Fletcher said: “I’ve spoken to Matt quite a bit and so has Kev. He’s asking the older players for advice and the good thing is he seems to be taking it on board.
“If he does go, all the best to him, but he knows what we expect from him if he stays.
“If he is here, we all believe he’ll do what we want him to. It shows the spirit we’ve got in the squad that we get that sort of reaction from him.” Despite worries the crowd may turn on a player who was a fans’ favourite, Phillips was greeted with huge cheers when brought on in the second half.
And Taylor-Fletcher thinks that made a huge difference. He added: “The reception Matty had from the fans sums this club up.
“He’d missed the game on Saturday, but we believed in him and knew he’d be there for us no matter what was going on. He showed he’s willing to knuckle down for us.
“He has to understand that he will get his chance in the Premier League. He’s a young lad and his time will come, hopefully with us next season.”
Taylor-Fletcher started Tuesday’s game in attack before moving into central midfield in the second half.
And he thinks it was a night to remember. “Everyone was buzzing in the dressing room afterwards,” he said.
“We missed chance after chance, but we always believed that sooner or later one of them was going to go in.
“You could see everyone lift again when we got the first. When we got the second, we just knew we were going to win.
“We had a few chances and we probably need to hit the target more, but that’s the way it goes. It was unbelievable.”
The 31-year-old has experienced ups and downs at Bloomfield Road but pinpoints one constant.
“The spirit around this club is unbelievable,” he said. “We have to believe in ourselves. On Saturday we had all the build-up and all the problems with Matty, but this squad always pulls out a performance.
“No matter what players come and go, we’ll always have a strong spirit and always give our all. It’s such a pleasurable team to play in.”
Since his £100,000 move from Huddersfield following Pool’s promotion from League One five years ago, Taylor-Fletcher has been involved in some of the most memorable games in the club’s history. And he wants to enjoy many more.
He said: “Playing in the Premier League was special. When I first come to Blackpool we were happy to play in the Championship.
“But you can see it in the lads’ eyes – we’ve had that taste now and we want to get back to the Premier League.
“Every game in the Prem was unbelievable and that’s where we want to be.
“It’s was an unbelievable 200th game for me and I’m delighted it ended with a win.
“It would have been nice to get a goal but I’m over the moon with the win.”