Arsenal loanee Dan Ballard suffers knock during the second leg of Blackpool's triumphant play-off semi-final win against Oxford
Dan Ballard suffered a knock during the second leg of Blackpool's play-off semi-final against Oxford United last night.
The defender was replaced at half-time at Bloomfield Road after being involved in a meaty challenge with Oxford striker Matty Taylor, who was fortunate to escape punishment.
But Neil Critchley revealed the defender was already struggling with a groin issue before the challenge and opted to take no chances, replacing the Arsenal loanee with Marvin Ekpiteta.
“It was partly because of the challenge, but he felt something around his groin and it was stiffening up," Pool's head coach explained.
“He was stretching after about 25 minutes and half an hour, but fingers crossed it’s not too serious.
“But when you’ve got a player like Marvin who can step in and play as well as he does, then it was quite a straight forward decision to make.”
The Seasiders will now be hoping Ballard will be fit enough to feature in the play-off final on Sunday, May 30, having overcome the U's 6-3 on aggregate.
Critchley's men will face either Lincoln City or Sunderland in the Wembley showpiece.
The two sides play the second leg of their tie this afternoon (3.30pm), with the Imps holding a 2-0 lead from the first game.
When asked who he'd prefer to face in the final, Critchley said: “I honestly don’t mind, I really don’t mind.
“We’ve done our job, so I can watch the game relaxed and appreciate what Lee Johnson and Michael Appleton are going to go through on the side.
“I can watch it on the sidelines with a nice cup of tea in my hand, or maybe something stronger - you never know!”
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