Pool head to Penrith with Riga...and a new keeper

Ben Alnwick has spent the past week training with the Seasiders

Ben Alnwick has spent the past week training with the Seasiders

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Blackpool will take as strong a side as they can to Penrith FC this afternoon, including a new face between the sticks.

Former Sunderland, Tottenham and Barnsley keeper Ben Alnwick has been training with the Seasiders all week and will play in the 3pm friendly as Pool kick-off their pre-season programme in Cumbria.

Jose Riga will be in the visitors’ dugout at the World Group Stadium this afternoon despite continuing doubts about his future.

Pool still have only eight contracted players three weeks before the Championship season begins, meaning triallists and youth-team kids will make up the numbers as they take on the Northern League outfit for the second summer running.

The Gazette understands that Riga wanted to send the youth team to Cumbria to fulfil today’s fixture. However, Oyston stepped in to insist the manager fielded the strongest side possible.

That side will include 27-year-old Wearsider Alnwick, who is available as a free agent after leaving Leyton Orient for personal reasons in March.

Alnwick came through the Sunderland academy before Tottenham paid £900,000 for him in 2007. He made only one senior appearance in six seasons with the London club, which included loan spells at Luton, Leicester, Carlisle, Norwich, Leeds and Doncaster.

He has represented England at every level up to U21 and has made 82 first-team appearances for 11 different clubs, including stints with Charlton and Leyton Orient last season.

Alnwick spent 2012-13 with Barnsley, whose defender Martin Cranie is high on Pool’s transfer wish-list.

The 27-year-old is available after the Tykes were relegated from the Championship last season.

Cranie is a well established Championship player, having made more than 200 appearances for Portsmouth, Coventry and Southampton.

The Gazette understands Pool have made a formal offer to the Yeovil-born former England U21 star and are due to hold talks with him over the weekend.

Riga’s future may also be resolved in the coming days as his relationship with chairman Oyston remains a troubled one.

Both again refused to comment on the situation yesterday.