Appleton’s learning fast about squad

Blackpool boss Michael Appleton
Blackpool boss Michael Appleton
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MICHAEL Appleton says he learned more about his Blackpool players during the first half on Saturday than in his whole three weeks at the club.

Pool’s poor start to the 2-2 draw with Watford highlighted issues manager Appleton is keen to sort out ahead of tonight’s game against Birmingham.

He will again be without the injured Ian Evatt, Matt Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Isaiah Osbourne, Tiago Gomes and Neal Eardley are all in contention for a start tonight, with Elliot Grandin likely to miss out.

Appleton says he’s getting to know his squad quickly. “I learned a massive amount about my players on Saturday,” he said.

“You learn nothing about people when you are winning, except that it’s a great feeling. You address things when you go behind or you lose games.

“Regardless of what may happen in the next five or six weeks, we learned things on Saturday we’ll be able to utilise. We changed the shape second half and went with two holding midfield players. They sat in and we pushed the full-backs higher. That gave our wingers more freedom to get forward.”

Appleton is looking for his first win as Blackpool boss and hopes tonight can be the night.

He revealed: “I told the players the expectations for Tuesday is to start the game the way they ended Saturday’s. I’m sure they got the message loud and clear.”

Blackpool faced Birmingham in the play-offs last season, though both sides’ fortunes have taken a turn for the worse so far this season.

The Seasiders lie 14th position in the Championship and Birmingham 19th.

Birmingham are on a similar run to Pool, with one win in their last five.

Lee Clark’s side have won two, drawn two and lost two away from home, scoring and conceding nine goals on the road.

But Appleton says they still pose a real threat. “They are packed with quality. Not too long ago they were playing in the Premier League,” he said.

“I expect most teams to come to Bloomfield Road and play against us on the counter-attack. That’s why we’ve been working so hard on that.

“We’ll continue to work on it until we get it right. We won’t fall short when it comes to putting the work in.

“Two or three players were icing themselves after the game on Saturday but hopefully they’ll all be fine.”