DJ Campbell is champing at the bit to show Pool fans and the rest of the Premier League what they’ve been missing.
The Seasiders striker finally returns to action against Arsenal on Sunday after a three-game suspension which – due to the way fixtures have fallen – has lasted six weeks.
Nine-goal Campbell was sent off at Wolves on February 26 for shoving an opponent in the face.
During his absence, Pool have lost to Fulham and Chelsea and drawn at Blackburn, and slipped to their lowest league position of the season – 17th, one place above the drop zone.
There’s no doubt they’ve missed Campbell’s goals and Ian Holloway admits he can’t wait to have the striker back.
“At Fulham it looked like my lads needed a boost and maybe that boost will be having DJ back,” said the boss. “He is a different type of player and his goals have been sadly missed.
“If you look at what happened on Sunday we were so punished by their strikers. How many chances did Bobby Zamora have? Probably two, and he scored twice. We needed to be as incisive as that, but are we that incisive without DJ? Who knows?
“I think we are maybe not as sharp as we can be when DJ is playing. We need somebody to be as sharp as Zamora was.
“Maybe DJ will give us a bit of extra belief.
“He’s been out for an awful long time for losing his temper at Wolves, and it will be good to see him finally back in a tangerine shirt. He will be fresh going into the final seven games and probably desperate to show what a good player he is.
“He was scoring goals and doing well before the ban so hopefully we want him to pick up where he left off – we need him to.”
The squad was back in training today, with Holloway planning to give his players a pep talk ahead of a sequence of fixtures that will define the season.
The Seasiders have four consecutive home games coming up, with clashes against Wigan, Stoke and Newcastle following Sunday’s Bloomfield Road meeting with Arsenal.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks, Holloway says it is imperative for his team to remain positive and to enjoy their football – something not always evident at Craven Cottage.
“If we feel sorry for ourselves, then we’re in trouble because these games are hard enough as it is,” he said.
“You need to up your energy and believe in yourself.
“If we don’t, then we will be on the wrong end of some hidings because you can’t get away with having the wrong attitude in the Premier League.
“I will tell them that we have to do better than this.
“But at the same time, I and all the fans have to be realistic.
“Take Fulham on Sunday. They have some good players, and look at who they had on their bench. I read the list of their subs out to my lads afterwards because it hammered home the standard we are up against.
“The bottom line is that we are still in a great position and doing a great job, better than anyone expected.
“Ask any other chairman in the league if would they like to be where we are after only spending £10m?
“Of course they would, what we are doing for the money we are spending is an unbelievable thing.
“We are up against it every time we play.
“Because of that, you do need something to go your way. The last thing I can remember going our way was when Brett Ormerod scored our third goal against Tottenham (on February 22) and sealed the points.
“Everything since then has gone against us so what I am looking for is characters who won’t worry about that.
“We have to keep going and hopefully we will stand up and be counted and show what we are made of in these next four crucial home games.”
n POOL’S Easter clash with Newcastle is a sellout. The final few tickets for the April 23 fixture were snapped up over the weekend.
Tickets for the home game with Stoke on Saturday April 30 are still available, though they are expected to sell out by the end of the week.
Prices for the Stoke game are £30 adults, £19 seniors and £15 juniors, with a £5 discount for members.