Blackpool boss thrives on top tests

Colin Doyle
Colin Doyle
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Neil McDonald can’t wait for Blackpool’s first clash of 2016 today, especially since it’s against a top-six side.

The Seasiders have beaten Wigan and Peterborough in the past three weeks – both clubs were in the League One play-off places at the time.

Today they travel to second-placed Burton – Pool’s first visit to the Pirelli Stadium – and manager McDonald is looking forward to it.

The Pool boss said: “We love playing against top-six sides and I hope that continues.

“We have competed really well against the top teams and Burton are one of those.

“We are starting to compete much more now against the teams above us. We have to carry that on.”

Burton won 2-1 at Bloomfield Road in the clubs’ first League meeting in August, when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the Brewers’ boss.

The Dutchman moved to Queens Park Rangers last month and Nigel Clough returned to Burton for a second stint in charge.

And McDonald hopes this change of stewardship could help his side.

“Burton have a new manager, so there will be question marks,” the Seasiders boss added.

“We have to try to take advantage of any doubts their players have. They are a good team and will be hard to break down.

“I thought we were good value for our 1-0 lead against them but because they were at the top of the league they punished us, so we have plenty to prove.”

Pool are waiting on the fitness of Colin Doyle, who hasn’t played for almost two months because of an ankle injury.

If fit, the keeper would go straight into the starting line-up because loanee Dean Lyness is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Jack Redshaw and Martin Paterson could also return but McDonald was giving nothing away. He said: “I’m hoping to have a couple back fit. Fingers crossed we’ll have some new faces from the team which played on Monday.”

Burton boss Clough has tipped Pool for a decent 2016 and insists his side won’t underestimate them.

He said: “People look at the table and see Blackpool are low down, but before Monday (when Pool lost 4-2 at Barnsley) they had three straight wins without conceding.

“People forget they were in the Premier League not so long ago and we were in the Conference.

“The problem they face is that their squad is being overhauled at the end of each season due to their situation, which means their new players are always going to need time to gel, but I can certainly see them having a strong second half to the season.

“I think Neil McDonald is doing brilliantly keeping them afloat.”