Baptiste: Promotion or players will go

Blackpool's Alex Baptiste
Blackpool's Alex Baptiste
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Alex Baptiste has warned the Seasiders risk losing some of their best players if they don’t get promoted this season.

The defender revealed that everyone in the Pool dressing room wants to be playing in the Premier League.

And while it is good that there is so much ambition within the squad, it also means that failure to bounce back to the top flight could spell trouble for the club.

Boss Ian Holloway has already admitted there are one or two clubs interested in his top players.

Baptiste is among those who has caught the eye of watching scouts and asked if this campaign could be make or break in terms of keeping the team together, he said: “Yes. I think so. It all depends on where the club wants to go at the end of the season. If they are happy being a Championship club or if they want to challenge for the Premier League again the year after - if we don’t go up.

“But our main focus is getting up. I don’t want the play-offs, I want automatic promotion. I know it seems far off but I think we are capable, I genuinely do.

“But if not then the play-offs are the absolute minimum aim. I don’t want to be seventh or eighth. It would be a season wasted in my eyes if we are not at least in the play-offs.”

Baptiste – who has recovered from a hamstring tear and is likely to step back in at Barnsley on Boxing Day - believes the team’s displays at Bloomfield Road will be key.

Pool have one of the strongest home records in the Championship, and the 25-year-old says it is imperative to keep it going.

“Nine of the top 12 teams have to come to our place in the second half of the season so our form at Bloomfield Road is going to be a massive thing for us,” he said.

“If we can regularly pick up wins we can do it. We need to make this place a fortress. You look at our games away from home and they are against teams in the bottom half. We can pick things up against them.

“But if we are going to do anything of note this year, then Bloomfield Road is going to have to become a place where we are feared.

“We make it difficult for opponents. If we play at a tempo, teams can’t live with us because we have that Premier League experience and we can play at a higher pace.

“We move the ball unbelievably well. We just need to make the most of that possession.

“So if we can start winning at home against the top teams, take points off them, then we will do all right.”

The other priority, according to Baptiste, is to stop shipping late goals.

“It has been our Achilles heel for the last two years that we’ve let in late goals,” he said.

“It has happened against Southampton and Birmingham recently, and in lots of other games.

“If has stopped us flying high in the league and instead we are where we are – just outside the play-offs.

“So it is something we have to work on, but we know we can compete in this league and we haven’t lost many games recently.

“If we can have a decent Christmas , stop conceding these late goals and win some games at home on a regular basis, then we can push for automatic promotion.”