Blackpool boss rues their disrupted pre-season

Neil Critchley has conceded the Covid outbreak among his squad has disrupted Blackpool’s pre-season.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 8:00 am

The Seasiders were without 16 players for Saturday’s 1-0 win against Carlisle United, as Pool returned after the cancellation of their game against Rangers.

Not all 16 are due to Covid with the likes of Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue and Gary Madine injured, and Bez Lubala unavailable.

Nevertheless, Critchley is still having to get by without a host of key first-teamers, a far from ideal situation to be in with just 12 days to go until the league campaign gets underway.

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Neil Critchley saw his Blackpool players win at Carlisle United on Saturday

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Neil Critchley delivers his verdict on Blackpool's friendly win against Carlisle...

“It has been disruptive,” Pool’s head coach admitted to The Gazette.

“We wanted the Rangers game to go ahead. It would have been a terrific night.

“The Rangers supporters would have come down in numbers and I know we had sold a lot of tickets.

“It would have been a great evening with the weather as well. It was all set up for a perfect night, so it was bitterly disappointing to have it cancelled.

“It was out of our control though, there was nothing we could do. You look around the country and the cases rising daily and we’ve not escaped it. You have to put the health and welfare of your players first.

“I couldn’t go through the individuals because there’s so many, so I’ll leave that for you to work it out, but it’s quite obvious from the players we’re missing that we’re without quite a lot of them.

“They’re going to come back at different stages. Some on Sunday, some during the week, so we might get a few back for Burnley on Tuesday.”

Critchley added: “It’s not ideal, of course it’s not. If you asked my preference, then I’d much prefer to have my squad together, training together, competing against each other, trying different scenarios and combinations, looking at players in different positions and so on.

“We’re not able to do that at the moment, but in my previous job at Liverpool, that was something I got used to because it was a daily occurrence when you’d lose players to the first team.

“In pre-season, you’d always be left with players coming back from loans, Under-18 players stepping up and we experienced a lot of this last season as well through the Covid situation, so it’s nothing new.

“It’s out of our control, so we just have to do the best we can do with what we’ve got here.

“The players, with the way they trained, they’ve taken it into the game and I was delighted with them.”

Not all of the absentees have tested positive, many of them are having to self-isolate having come into contact with team-mates.

“It’s a mix,” Critchley said. “Some have tested positive, but because some have been in contact with us, they have to isolate as well.

“It is a mixture and they’ll come back at various stages. Some will train on Sunday which might put them into contention for Tuesday night if they don’t suffer any adverse reactions.

“We’ll then get a few more back in midweek, which will hopefully mean they’re eligible for Morecambe next week.”

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