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Premier League

Holloway still hopes to keep Gilks beside the seaside

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is determined to retain the services of his goalkeeper Matt Gilks. Holloway knows, however, he could be fighting a losing battle with the player out of contract come next summer.

Gilks has been linked to a number of top clubs and broken into the Scotland squad this season. Yet before Holloway arrived his career was on a downward spiral and he thought about walking away from the game.

Since then Blackpool have won promotion and Holloway said yesterday: "How many fans would believe we are in the Premier League and he is in goal for us playing out of his skin? All sorts of people are rumoured to want him. I was sick and fed up with the stick he got in his first game and I have worked my socks off to help him. He is a magnificent man and I am delighted how well he is playing. If I can keep him I would love to. If I can't he goes with my blessing. Unfortunately, he is out of contract and what is his agent telling him? Who knows?

"What I do know is I have Paul Rachubka training now, Richard Kingson and young Mark Halstead. If Matt goes one of them might have to play. It won't be that much of a hardship but Matt owes me nothing."

Holloway is aiming to tie up a permanent deal for Luke Varney in the January transfer window. Varney, on loan from Derby, scored in Blackpool's 2-1 victory against West Bromwich on Monday.

"A document has been put in place that we are the only club that can buy him at this moment," Holloway said. "If we say no he can go back at the end of the season and Derby can sell him. We have a clause, the fee is already agreed. It is just his wages. He is on more at Derby than he would be on here.

"Would he take a pay cut? I hope so. He is a great lad with lots of energy. He epitomises how I want to play. He never stops running, he never stops trying, he is a threat all the time. I would love to make the move permanent and I think we might have a chance."

The Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell hopes to be back in first-team action soon after making a rapid recovery from a serious ankle injury. The England Under-21 international stepped up his rehabilitation with an appearance for the Toffees' reserves against Blackpool on Wednesday. It was feared the 19-year-old could be out for up to three months when he suffered the injury nine weeks ago.