Clark sets Pool Christmas target

Blackpool manager Lee Clark
Blackpool manager Lee Clark
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Lee Clark has set his Blackpool side a Christmas target – to be within touching distance of their relegation rivals after their three festive fixtures.

The Seasiders welcome Championship leaders Bournemouth to Bloomfield Road this Saturday for the first of three games in nine days, followed by less daunting clashes with Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham.

Clark’s men lie eight points from safety at the bottom of the table but the boss hopes to have closed the gap by the turn of the year.

“If we can get at those teams psychologically, it will be big for us,” he said.

“We have to keep chipping away, and when results do go our way we need to do our job.

“The gap didn’t close on fourth-bottom last weekend but we are getting other teams closer to us.

“We still need to turn draws into three points, but we made up another point on a couple of teams above us. We got a step closer to Wigan and Brighton and we want to close that gap.

“We are chipping away at it and giving ourselves a chance, and we want to be within touching distance come the New Year.”

Pool are unbeaten in four, and although only one of those games has been won Clark says he is seeing a big difference around the club as his new-look squad strives to turn the season around after a disastrous start.

The manager added: “I can’t fault the players for their effort, commitment and willingness to fight.

“What pleases me is they can now take knockbacks. After Ipswich (Clark’s first game in charge, a 2-0 defeat), I was concerned about how quickly we lost confidence as soon as a goal went in.

“We don’t do that now. We keep fighting, battling and knowing a goal is round the corner.

“We are going to need that between now and the end of the season.

“It’s inevitable we will lose games, but it’s about bouncing back and doing things the right way.”

Blackpool look set to face Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth with no new injury worries, meaning Clark is likely to name a similar side to that which drew at Charlton.

Long-term absentees Gary MacKenzie and Jose Miguel Cubero, who returns to the UK from his native Costa Rica tomorrow, are again set to miss out.