Paul Ince says Barry Ferguson is as important to Blackpool as Steven Gerrard is to Liverpool.
The 35-year-old midfielder will be out for another month after surgery on an ankle injury, a huge blow for the Seasiders.
Ferguson was reinstated as captain this summer by manager Ince, who built his team around the former Scotland captain.
He repaid his boss with a number of superb performances and Ince said: “He’s our captain, he’s vocal, he’s a leader and he’s a very good footballer. The experience he gives us is second to none.
“As much as we can search the market and look for players, we are never going to be able to replace Barry Ferguson.
“Liverpool won’t find another Steven Gerrard, Manchester United won’t find another Ryan Giggs and we won’t be able to find another Barry Ferguson.”
It was initially thought Ferguson’s injury wasn’t too serious, but a visit to London to see a specialist resulted in an operation that night.
The upshot is that he will return to action around the same time his boss returns from a five-game FA ban.
Ince added: “Barry is devastated. He was gutted when it happened.
“When you are that age you just want to play. Any injury which stops you training and playing hurts you more than if you are 23, especially when you look how well he was playing.
“To lose him for another three or four weeks is a real blow but it gives someone else a chance.”
Pool’s players have been handed today off before the club’s internationals return tomorrow.
That leaves Ince only two days with his full squad to prepare for Saturday’s televised home clash with Wigan.
“We don’t really have time to prepare as we can’t do any team play without Matt (Gilks), Thomas (Ince), Robbo (Jack Robinson) or Cathers (Craig Cathcart).
“For us the international break is good to get players up to speed. Normally the weekend after an international break you get weird results. Breaks can have their pluses and minuses.”
Pool’s youth team beat Bolton 2-0 yesterday, 24 hours after facing the club’s fringe players in a behind closed doors game.
Bobby Grant, Michael Chopra and Marvin Zeegelaar all featured and Ince said: “We had a game on Monday against the youth team, which the lads needed.
“Sometimes you concentrate so much on the starting 11 you forget that the other lads need games.
“It’s hard to get games arranged with other clubs. We will be playing Bolton next Tuesday too and the lads need it.
“We will try to get as many games for them as we can.”
Meanwhile, Blackpool’s Tom Ince was again impressive on his 10th appearance for England Under-21s last night, helping Gareth Southgate’s side to a 5-0 home win over Lithuania which sent them top of their European Championship qualifying group.
Pool loan left-back Jack Robinson won the penalty from which Saido Berahino completed the scoring with his second of the night at Ipswich’s Portman Road.
Craig Cathcart played the full 90 minutes for Northern Ireland in their 1-1 draw in Israel.
The Blackpool centre-half was booked as his side finished fifth in their World Cup qualifying group.
Pool keeper Matt Gilks found himself in the familiar role of unused substitute as Scotland ended their unsuccessful qualifying campaign on a high with a 2-0 win over Croatia at Hampden Park.