Neil Critchley delighted to have Gary Madine back from injury in time for League One play-off against Oxford United

Neil Critchley is hoping Gary Madine can step-up his fitness work this week and play more of a part in Blackpool’s play-off games after making his long-awaited return on the last day of the campaign.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 3:50 pm

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The striker was an 84th-minute substitute on Sunday as the Seasiders finished the regular season with a 1-0 win against Bristol Rovers.

The victory set up a play-off semi-final tie with Oxford United with the first leg taking place at the Kassam Stadium next Tuesday (6pm kick-off).

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Madine’s late cameo was his first appearance for the Seasiders since the end of January, having been sidelined with a niggling groin injury.

The knock initially required injections but the 30-year-old would suffer a number of setbacks on his return.

But the former Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers man is finally available for selection again after a frustrating few months.

“We’re all delighted to see him back,” Critchley said.

Gary Madine made his long-awaited return from injury on Sunday

“You could see that late on with what he brought to the team with his experience, his class and his leadership.

“He’s completed a couple of days’ training and he gave the green light on Friday that he could be involved.

“He’s got 10 minutes, but it’s 10 minutes he’s not had in a few months.

“Hopefully now he will benefit from that and we can step him up a little bit in terms of his training volume and his intensity next week so he can play more of a part in the two games coming up.”

Madine’s return couldn’t be any more timely given what is coming up for the Seasiders.

It was only a few weeks ago that Critchley had a real dearth of attacking options on the bench, but things are looking a lot better now with Keshi Anderson also back following a four-month absence.

“It’s very good timing,” Critchley said.

“I thought Keshi looked a really good player against Bristol Rovers, especially in the first-half, so he’ll benefit enormously from the minutes he’s had.

“He brings attacking verve on that side of the pitch or as a number 10.

“To have Gary back as well, we have a couple of options there at just the right time for us.

“I thought Elliot (Embleton) was good on Sunday, Demi (Mitchell) as well. We’re also hopeful Sullay (Kaikai) will be fit as well so we should have some options, which we’re going to need.

“One or two have definitely given me a headache. It’s a nice headache, but I’ll have a selection problem for the game on the Tuesday night at Oxford.

“There were some really good performances (on the final day) and they’ve given me plenty of food for thought, that’s for certain.”

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