Ian Holloway admits he is going to find it hard to scrub Ludovic Sylvestre’s name off the teamsheet ... as long as Pool keep winning.
The Seasiders are unbeaten since the Frenchman stepped into the midfield alongside Keith Southern and skipper Barry Ferguson.
The Seasiders have taken seven points from nine – Saturday’s draw at Middlesbrough followed wins over Leeds and Millwall – and Sylvestre has been a key figure in all three games, scoring his first league goal in a Pool shirt at the Riverside.
A run in the team has been a long time coming for the 27-year-old, who was hardly involved in his first season at the club.
Sylvestre said: “I am thoroughly enjoying my football at the moment because I’m playing. To get my first league goal was a big thing for me, but the most important part of Saturday was getting a point from a very difficult game.
“The gaffer seems pleased with me and I hope I can keep going.”
Holloway is pleased, but that doesn’t mean Sylvestre is a guaranteed to be picked every week.
When asked what Sylvestre needed to do to stay in his side, Holloway kept it simple.
“He has to help us win,” said the boss. “He has to be as enthusiastic as he currently is, and when he loses the ball he has to be in the right place to win it back.
“But he is impressing me. If you look at our first goal at Leeds, you’ll find that Ludo won the ball, passed it, got it back then played a fantastic ball to put Jonjo Shelvey in and we scored from it.
“He read a defensive situation, and when I first signed him I didn’t think he could do that. I didn’t think he had a clue about where he was going. He spent time languishing behind Vaughan, Adam and Southern or Grandin last season… and that is no shame.
“But I believe he can play in a team of mine and win now. He has proved that in the last few games.
“Before now, every time I gave him half a chance he wouldn’t be involved.
“At Crystal Palace we let a goal in when he was on there. You could say it wasn’t his fault but we conceded one after being 1-0 up.
“At Portsmouth we passed it nicely but let another goal in, so he has to help my team win.
“He is doing that now. He has adapted his game a little and is now making it possible for me to keep picking him.
“If he does what he is doing, I’ll keep rewarding him because I believe the future of football is retaining the ball – possession and progression.
“Maybe sometimes he felt it was just about possession. If he can get some progressive passes in, create goals and maybe score a few himself – like he did at Middlesbrough – then he has every chance of staying in.
“He is a wonderful boy and a wonderful footballer ... but I have some other wonderful ones as well.
“I’m sure that if he plays only half as well as he has in the last three games his name will be hard to scrub out of our team.”