Canaries are a top three side – Gilks

Michael Bailey Former Norwich City goalkeeper Matthew Gilks believes his former club will be force to be reckoned with in the Championship this season despite their slow start.

Michael Bailey

Former Norwich City goalkeeper Matthew Gilks believes his former club will be force to be reckoned with in the Championship this season despite their slow start.

The 26-year-old stopper joined Blackpool during the summer as a makeweight in the deal to bring Wes Hoolahan in the opposite direction, with Gilks failing to make a first team appearance for the Canaries.

With Norwich opening their home Coca-Cola Championship fixture programme against the Seasiders on Saturday, Gilks cannot wait to return to Norfolk where he still expects City to be a much tougher proposition to last season's side.

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“I'm looking forward to it.,” said Gilks. “There is a lot of expectancy this year and Glenn Roeder has brought all his own players in.

“But they are a top three Championship side, no matter who comes down from the Premiership, and although it is obviously a disappointing start for them, they'll soon turn it round and they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship.

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“There is no doubt about that, with the size of the club and the fan base, which is absolutely superb. I have never known fans like them. There is not a chance of them having what happened last year, being stuck at the bottom for a few games and then struggling really just to stay up. I don't think there will be any chance of that this year.”

Blackpool have been strongly tipped to struggle this season after they lost Hoolahan to Norwich and Kaspars Gorkss joined Queens Park Rangers in the summer.

But Gilks, who made his first team debut in Blackpool's 2-0 at Macclesfield in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, is happy they can improve on last season's 19th finish and prove the doubters wrong.

“I think Blackpool have got to try and achieve a higher place than they finished last year. A lot of people have written us off at the moment but our first game performance against Bristol city contributed to a game we should never have lost.

“The chances that we created were more than what Bristol created, but they took one of the few opportunities they had. So on that game alone, we are looking to have a very positive season,” said Gilks, as he continues to settle in at Bloomfield Road.

“It was good to get a first team game in after the 15 months or whatever it has been, it was good to get back on the pitch.

“There are a lot of new faces again and, getting involved in a new club, it is not always easy. But I've made new friends, like you do, and I just want to get on a play football, so it has been good since I moved here.”

Having stayed loyal to his first club Rochdale, Gilks was signed by Peter Grant as a free agent in June 2007 but he did not get to save a shot in anger for the Canaries as David Marshall retained his tight grip on the number one shirt.

“I am looking forward to seeing the lads. I have been speaking to a lot of them over the summer and the last few weeks, and I stay in touch with nearly all of them, so it will be good to see them,” said Gilks.

“To be honest I loved every minute of it there. When I arrived, there were great players, big players who you'd seen in the papers and on the TV every week. I made a lot of great friends down there, not just at the football club but in the city itself. I had a great 12 months, 12 months that I maybe never thought I would get to witness myself. I loved it.”

Gilks is facing another battle for first team football at Bloomfield Road, with Paul Rachubka first choice and an every present last season.

“Obviously they know what he's about, while I am still yet to show people what I can do,” Gilks added. “So I'm not too disappointed as it is the start of the season, but I will be pushing every day in training to get that first team spot which is what I want.”

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