Blackpool boss Neil Critchley trying not to get too carried away with early form of Arsenal loanee Dan Ballard

Neil Critchley admits he's having to be careful not to get too carried away with the early performances of Blackpool loanee Dan Ballard.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 9:01 am
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 9:24 am

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The 21-year-old has been Blackpool’s man of the match on his first two starts for the club having arrived on loan from Arsenal during the transfer window.

The Northern Ireland international was a third-minute sub in Pool’s defeat to Charlton Athletic last week, before beginning Saturday’s win against MK Dons from the start in the absence of the suspended James Husband.

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The defender has been a calming influence on Pool’s backline and always looks calm and assured in possession of the ball.

“I don’t want to get too carried away with him because I don’t want to put a spell on him or anything,” Critchley said.

“But he’s been outstanding in the two games he’s played and I thought he was nearly faultless defensively on Saturday.

“He has an assurance, he plays like a man and he defends well, competes well. I thought he was terrific.”

Ballard has been in impressive form since joining from Arsenal

Sullay Kaikai’s second-half strike on his return from injury was enough to hand Blackpool a much-needed 1-0 win against MK Dons on Saturday.

In a game low on quality, the Seasiders struggled for creativity in the final third but were never seriously threatened at the other end of the pitch either.

While Critchley was delighted to get the victory to take his side out of League One’s bottom four, he knows there are still things to improve on.

“I think we could have done a bit better on the ball if I’m being honest. I think we could have controlled the game a bit more in possession,” Pool’s head coach said.

“But out of possession I thought we managed the game very well.

“They didn’t really get near our goal but you know when it’s only 1-0 all it takes is one moment. They get a free-kick right at the death and you’re thinking ‘here we go’, but thankfully the lad put it over.

“But there were some really encouraging positive signs from the players.”

Critchley also reserved praise for the three substitutes, who all played their part in Blackpool seeing out the remainder of the game.

Oliver Sarkic, Dan Kemp and Gary Madine all came off the bench as the Seasiders won for just the second time this season.

“I thought the subs did well. OIi Sarkic did well when he came on as well, he kept the ball for us and linked the play,” Critchley said.

“Kempy was bright, lively and could have scored and even Gary Madine at the end for five minutes, he showed that little bit of experience and know-how which was really important.”

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