Gilks not there to make up numbers

Blackpool boss Simon Grayson expects goalkeeper Matthew Gilks to make up for his year on the sidelines at Norwich City - by staking his claim for regular first team football.

Blackpool boss Simon Grayson expects goalkeeper Matthew Gilks to make up for his year on the sidelines at Norwich City - by staking his claim for regular first team football.

Gilks joined the Seasiders in the deal that took winger Wes Hoolahan in the opposite direction, and Grayson revealed it was not the first time he had tried to sign the 26-year-old 'keeper.

He said the former Rochdale man would be pushing Paul Rachubka all the way to be first choice for the new campaign, with Blackpool's second Championship fixture at Carrow Road on August 16.

“We wanted to get a player out of the deal and we had tried to sign Matty Gilks in January when we were looking to sign a 'keeper, but Norwich wouldn't let him out at the time,” said Grayson.

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“So, while it is sad for Wes to leave, I am glad to have got Matty Gilks and it will be good competition for 'Chubs'. They both know they will come back for pre-season and will have to push each other on.

“Matt is a good character and was unfortunate not to have played at Norwich, but he was behind an extremely good 'keeper, and he is someone we know well.

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“Peter Fox worked with him a lot at Rochdale and I have seen him play on a number of occasions. Everyone who I have spoken to rates him extremely highly, and since we let Rhys Evans leave, the 'keeper position is one we have been looking to fill. I am pleased my number one target for that position has come off.”

Grayson told Blackpool's official website that Rachubka and Gilks - who played just eight reserve games in 12 months with City and never appeared for the first team - would start the season on a level playing field.

He said: “Definitely, it is like that for all the players. You can't go off what the players have done in the past. It is all about how fit the players are, how confident they are and how they do in the pre-season games. That applies to every position in the team and not just the goalkeepers.”

Grayson said Blackpool did everything possible to retain Republic of Ireland international Hoolahan.

“We offered Wes numerous new deals and once it got to the stage where he hadn't accepted any of them, we knew he was going to move on,” he said.

“If he had moved to a club similar to ours it would have been a disappointment, but he has moved to Norwich, who were in the Premiership not so long ago, and they average 20,000 plus and they are a big club. It was an opportunity to move and he took it. He has been a good servant to the club, he has given us two excellent years, he has entertained people and he has been one of most regular and consistent performers and he has brought something different to the team.

“People will talk about the clause in his contract and I can tell you, if that clause wasn't in his contract then he would not have signed for us and I would have much preferred to have had last season than not. We like to think we have helped develop him into the player he is now. Players come and go and that will happen at every club at every window. We wish him well and we are taking odds on who will kick him at Norwich in the second game.”

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