Latics ace Gilks aims to hand old friend a night to forget

Matt Gilks made a penalty-saving start to his time at the DW Stadium on Saturday
Matt Gilks made a penalty-saving start to his time at the DW Stadium on Saturday

Matt Gilks will get the chance to catch up with an old friend at Loftus Road tonight, but will be doing all he can to make sure Ian Holloway has a night to forget.

The keeper played for Blackpool under Holloway earlier in his career, during which time he also represented Scotland, and has remained in touch with his old boss.

We’ll go to QPR, we’ll be dogged, we’ll be hard to beat

Matt Gilks

But after making a superb penalty-saving home debut for Latics on Saturday, the 34-year-old is on a mission to make the starting keeper spot his own under Warren Joyce, and has promised his old manager Wigan will be ‘hard to beat’ tonight.

“Obviously Ollie was my manager at Blackpool, so I know him very well, we’ll have a good chat when we’re down there,” said Gilks.

“We still speak on the phone a lot, and he’s been a very important part of my career, what he did for me.

“But we’ll go to QPR, we’ll be dogged, we’ll be hard to beat.”

Gilks arrived at Latics from Rangers on the final day of the January transfer window, and has filled the vacancy between the posts after injuries to keepers Jakob Haugaard, Jussi Jaaskelainen and Adam Bogdan in what Joyce has described as a ‘freak’ situation.

But Gilks is aiming to prove he is in the side through merit and not by default.

“That was my challenge right from the beginning, to show in training and then in games that I’m up to it like I’ve been in the past,” he said.

“This is my opportunity now and I want to take it with two hands.”

And the stopper has certainly impressed Joyce on and off the field since his arrival, with the manager citing his influence on the whole squad as a positive.

“We’ve had a tough time with freak injuries to goalkeepers this season,” explained the boss.

“Obviously Gilks is an experienced keeper and he came in confident and gave an overall good display.

“A big part of my idea of bringing him to the club is the type of man he is, the type of pro.

“You’ve got a lot of younger players at the club you want to see develop and improve.

“And not only become good players and have successful careers but be really good pros as well.

“The older pros at the club have been there and done it like Warnock and Buxton and Morgan and Perkins and Jaaskelainen, and we want other good pros, good men like them to lead and show what it’s like to be a professional footballer and Gilks fits into that bracket.”

Gilks’ double penalty save at the weekend was a weighty contribution to Wigan securing another point in their fight for survival, though Joyce said that wasn’t the only part of the keeper’s performance which impressed him.

“Not just the penalty, his overall display – even though he didn’t have a lot to do he just looked confident and composed,” he said.

And that confidence will be a key asset as the race for Championship survival becomes more heated.

“We’ve got 14 games left now and we’ll just take it one game at a time,” said Gilks.

“It’s a tough division with some very tough teams in there, and a lot of good football being played, but we’ll be ready for it.”