Will Hartlepool United’s marathon trip to Torquay be a happy journey for Blair Adams?
You would not bet your house on it, given the form of Nicky Deverdics.
At the moment, Devs is playing out of his skin so I knew after coming back from my injury that I would have to be patientBLAIR ADAMS
The 29-year-old is currently keeping Adams out of his left-back spot.
Adams is having to be patient, very patient, as he awaits his fifth start of the season.
Before the start of the National League programme, you would have identified only two players who were nailed on for their places in the team – keeper Scott Loach and left-back Blair Adams.
Loach has been untouchable – if a player of the season awarded was judged now he would win by several miles.
But, for Adams, who looked a shoo-in at left-back, it has been a frustrating time.
Troubled by a persistent groin injury, the 26-year-old has started just four matches and his return to fitness has coincided with a superb sequence of form by Deverdics.
Adams has been back since the start of October and has been in the match-day 16 for all five games against Barrow, Solihull, South Shields, Sutton and Tranmere.
The high regard in which Craig Harrison clearly holds him can be seen by the fact the boss has brought him off the bench four times – all four in a bid to try to hold on to leads.
The former Northampon, Coventry, Notts County, Cambridge and Hamilton defender has performed well, but it’s not been enough to clinch a starting spot.
His only start this month came in midweek, when he played the first hour for Pools’ Reserves in their Durham Challenge Cup win over Hebburn at Victoria Park on Wednesday night.
“I’ve not played as much as I would have liked in the first team, so it was important to get a run-out and get the legs going a bit,” he told SportMail.
“I’ve been getting 20/30 minutes to see games out and even had a spell or two on the left wing and enjoyed it out there!
“I want to get as many minutes as I can and I hope I’m making an impression in those short spells, because I’m pushing to try to get in the starting XI – and stay there once I’m in.
“At the moment, Devs is playing out of his skin, so I knew, after coming back from my injury, that I would have to be patient.
“That’s proved to be the case and I know, in the 20 to 30 minutes I’ve been getting, that I must get involved as much as I can and stake a claim.”
There is some light at the end of the tunnel – possibly!
Deverdics has hinted, heavily, that he’d love a crack further up the field, though the selection issue is the prerogative of the gaffer.
But the Geordie is in confident touch – and scoring – so if Harrison chooses that route then Adams is ready.
“Definitely,” said the South Shields lad who says a return to the starting XI is not a problem.
“The intensity in training is always high, so I think that’s helping.
“Getting a run-out on Wednesday night is getting me there as well, it’s just now about waiting.
“I don’t know if the gaffer plans to keep Devs there, but he’s been brilliant at left-back, scoring goals, creating goals, so he’s doing well.
“It’s down to the gaffer whether he sees him there or pushes him forward.”
Adams does not wish any ill on his comrade, but he’s desperate to play a full part in the promotion push.
“The lads have been on a brilliant run,” he said.
“It hasn’t been pretty at times, but the results have kept coming, even if we haven’t been playing at our full potential.
“We are a third of the way through the season and there’s still a lot to come from us.
“We are quietly going about our business and we’re on a good little run – I’m pleased to now be playing a part in it, even if that’s just the 20 to 30 minutes as a sub.
“For me, it’s important I’m contributing.
“I want to play a big part for Hartlepool for the rest of the season.”
Tomorrow’s match at Plainmoor is vital to the team, and Pools will start favourites.
“It’s another opportunity to get three points,” explained Adams, who said the squad have been frustrated not to get more than two points from two home games in the last week.
“The great thing about this league is there is one game after another.
“The last two games could have been seen out had we been more clinical, but we got draws and that kept the run going.
“We’ve only had one defeat in 11 in the league – we’re not losing and that’s the important thing.”