Blackpool's Matt Phillips wins Football League monthly award

Matt Phillips hopes his run of form can help Blackpool make an immediate return to the Premier League after the winger landed the Football League's Young Player of the Month award for January.

"You can't blame anyone for wanting to play in the Premier League," he said.

"We are only a couple of points away so hopefully, by the season's end, we will find ourselves in the Premier League."

The 20-year-old, who has scored seven goals in nine games in 2012, has also been called into Scotland's squad.

The Aylesbury-born wideman has represented England at Under-20 level, but qualifies for Scotland through his grandparents and could make his debut against Slovenia on 29 February.

Phillips's string of fine performance have coincided with a 10-match unbeaten league run, during which the Seasiders have climbed to within four points and two places of the automatic promotion places.

WHO IS MATT PHILLIPS?

  • Born in Aylesbury on 13 March 1991, Phillips joined Wycombe at the age of eight.
  • He made his first-team debut against Notts County on 26 April 2008, shortly after his 17th birthday.
  • He made 85 first-team appearances for the Chairboys, scoring eight goals, before moving to then-Premier League Blackpool in August 2010 in a deal worth up to £700,000.
  • He scored a superb goal a minute after coming on for his Seasiders debut, but it was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat by Blackburn.
  • He appeared 27 times in Blackpool's Premier League campaign.
  • He scored six goals in seven games during a loan spell at Sheffield United earlier this season.
  • He made his debut for England under-20s in February 2011 and played in the team's World Cup campaign in the summer.

It marks a stark turnaround from the team's final match of 2011.

Blackpool slid to ninth after a 3-0 defeat away to Birmingham on New Year's Eve in a match which saw manager Ian Holloway and captain Barry Ferguson sent off.

The Tangerines have now recovered to hit their stride as they approach the business end of the season.

"Ian Holloway has got us playing well. We are playing good attacking football with good players and that is what you enjoy doing," Phillips added.

"It is exciting and is a joy to be part of.

"On a personal level, winning this award is a great achievement and it is great for the club as well to have players getting recognition."

After impressing in Blackpool's unsuccessful fight against relegation from the Premier League last term, Phillips made a slow start to life in the Championship.

Holloway reacted by loaning him out to League One Sheffield United in October - and his decision was vindicated as Phillips returned full of self-belief after scoring six goals from seven games.

The former Wycombe Wanderers man's good form meant Holloway had to fend off a bid of £850,000 from Cardiff.

"I came back in the summer and I needed to get a bit of sharpness," Phillips said.

SEASON OF TWO HALVES - BLACKPOOL IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE 2010/11

  • In 2010: Played 17 Points 25 Position 8th
  • In 2011: Played 21 Points 14 Position 19th

"I hadn't scored since my debut for Blackpool up until then, so it was good to go to Sheffield United get the games and get some goals."

Holloway believes his midfielder's call-up to England's Under-20s' World Cup campaign in the summer may have briefly hindered his progress at club level.

Brian Eastick's side registered goalless draws against Argentina, North Korea and Nigeria  as they were knocked out in the group stages.

"He went to a tournament in the summer and they didn't score a goal," reflects Holloway.

"He was also asked to do some defending, which I don't normally ask him to do, and it was all a little bit different.

"But at the moment he is playing with enthusiasm, he is trying things and it is great to watch.

"I believe he is good enough for one of the top five teams in this country and that makes him good enough for one of the top five teams in the world doesn't it?

"I don't think he could get any more confident, but the great thing about him is that it doesn't turn to conceitedness. He has got his feet firmly on the ground.

"He comes in and works as hard as anybody and some of the best players in the world are like that."