KEVIN Phillips is facing a battle to be fit for the new season after tearing his hamstring.
The striker is expected to be sidelined for 10 to 14 days, which means he will struggle to get the all-clear for the opening day trip to Millwall.
Phillips was conspicuous by his absence over the weekend, missing the friendlies against Everton and Hyde.
And with Ian Holloway already short in the strikers department, Phillips injury is a big blow.
The 39-year-old, who scored 16 goals last season to finish top scorer, is the only recognised centre forward at the club. It will force Holloway to step up his search for a striker. He has so far missed out on Roman Bednar and Emile Heskey, while Billy Paynter was sent back to Leeds after an unsuccessful trial.
Pool, meanwhile, take on Swansea in their final pre-season friendly tonight.
Holloway’s men trained in Cardiff yesterday – staying overnight in the same hotel Team GB’s football team used during their Millennium Stadium matches – and it’s believed the manager will name his strongest side possible ahead of Sunday’s Capital One cup clash against Morecambe.
The Pool boss is excited about taking on the Swans, a side he watched relentlessly during his year out of football in 2008-09 and who he bases his footballing philosophy on.
“It is an exciting fixture for us, and I’ve got to decide what on earth I am doing with the lads there and who I should play and for how long,” Holloway said.
“It is a fantastic game for us, against a marvellous team who will keep the ball. We probably won’t see it.
“So it will be a great chance to work my lot, see what we’ve got, and see how we can do in an away fixture.”
A big crowd is expected at the Liberty Stadium to welcome new Swans boss Michael Laudrup, who took over this summer after Brendan Rogers joined Liverpool.
“I’m really looking forward to it,’’ explained Laudrup. “In fact, we are all looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd for the first time this season.
“I’ve been told our fans are very passionate, patient and knowledgeable, so it will be great to experience it for the first time at home.
“The fans have been very warm to me and my family since I arrived here, something I really appreciate.
“The Blackpool game will also be the first time we have played British opposition, so that will be interesting for me.
“I’ve got a few positions set in my mind, but if you want to know if my starting XI is finalised for the first league game at QPR, then the answer is no. It’s still too early.”
Swansea are expected to name a strong squad to face the Seasiders, although they will be without Team GB stars Scott Sinclair, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor.
The trio will arrive back at Swansea tomorrow after their Olympic exertions.
New signings Chico, Jonathan de Guzman and Michu are all expected to figure for Laudrup’s men.
Tickets are still available from the Liberty Stadium priced £10 adults and £5 concessions.