Boss warns Blackpool stars: Don’t take my loyalty for granted

Neil McDonald
Neil McDonald
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Neil McDonald has a warning for his Blackpool players – perform or you’re out!

The Seasiders take on second- placed Gillingham at Bloomfield Road today, looking to extend their unbeaten run to four games.

A decent start to 2016 for McDonald’s men has left them two points above the League One relegation zone, but after adding three players so far in this transfer window, the manager has a warning for his players.

Pool boss McDonald said: “I have been quite loyal all through the season – if we are playing well, you will keep your shirt.

“You have to do something seriously wrong or the team play seriously badly for me to change the team.

“Whoever is being named at the moment is giving their all.

“In the striker position we have real options now. They have to keep scoring or someone else will take their place.

“When I played – a long time ago – you always kept your shirt if you played well.

“I think that’s happened here so far. A lot of the players have been performing well enough and I’ll keep them in the team if they do.

“There are people not even on the bench who are working extremely hard to get back into the team.

“Some people have lost their place, but through injury not lack of form. They are having to be patient.”

As McDonald mentioned, one area where Pool are blessed at the moment is in attack.

Mark Cullen, Uche Ikpeazu, Danny Philliskirk and Jack Redshaw are all battling for the two striking positions today, and the manager feels that’s healthy.

McDonald is delighted with his options and said: “Danny has come in and hit the ground running, which is excellent.

“He had been playing and scoring goals for Oldham, so we knew he wouldn’t need much time to settle it. He just needed to learn his role in the team and he’s done great.

“He’s very intelligent as a player and all the forwards are fighting for their place. I think we are doing ourselves a lot of good at the moment.”

Justin Edinburgh’s Gills arrive at Bloomfield Road in good form. They’ve won five of their last eight, losing just one of them, and lie just three points behind leaders Burton.

They beat Pool 2-1 in Kent in September but McDonald feels much has changed since.

“We competed very well down there and we thought we were unlucky not to come away with something,” he said.

“We have to show the commitment, tempo and energy we’ve shown in the last few games. If we do that we’ll have a chance. A lot of the squad have played a lot of time now and the consistency is coming.

“We are now defending better and keeping clean sheets.

“I think that always helps when we come up against the better sides in the division.”