Blackpool get set for a consistent run of fixtures

Blackpool kick off the start of an uninterrupted schedule with a long trip to South Wales this afternoon.

By Matt Scrafton
Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:00 am

Today’s clash against Swansea City brings an end to the third international break in what has been a stop-start season.

However, no further breaks are due to take place from now until March.

Sandwiched in between, meanwhile, is the upcoming hectic festive calendar which will see Neil Critchley’s side face three games in just six days over the Christmas and New Year period.

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Pool’s head coach is refusing to look too far ahead though and has his eyes set firmly on today’s challenge against the Swans.

“The games coming up are no more important than what’s come before or what’s going to come afterwards, because they’re all important stages of the season,” he said.

“We had tough games before we broke before the international break and you’ve only got to look at the fixtures coming up to see we’ve got tough games in front of us.

“We were used to a relentless schedule last season so it’s been quite unusual to have three free weekends before Christmas. We certainly weren’t used to that last season.

“With Shayne (Lavery) coming back and Maxi (Chris Maxwell) coming back, and Keyesy (Richard Keogh) coming back at some point next week, we’ll have a strong squad in terms of quality and numbers to pick from.

“We’re going to need that because it’s going to be a really busy time for us.”

There’s been much talk of interrupted schedules in the past week or so following the announcement of next season’s calendar, which has been altered due to the winter World Cup in Qatar.

Should the Seasiders remain in the Championship, they will break for four weeks; a luxury not afforded to sides in the bottom two divisions.

“We knew it was coming and we got a chance to vote on these things,” Pool’s head coach said.

“It’s not ideal having a World Cup in the middle of the season, but it will be more of a hindrance for the Premier League teams because of the amount of players they’ll miss.

“Fingers crossed Australia make it and Kenny (Dougall) gets the chance to be in the squad and go, but at this moment in time, we’d have no-one else there so it wouldn’t be a massive hindrance for us in terms of losing players.

“As a natural break, it’s unusual but we’re trying not to concentrate on it too much because we’ve got to think about this season first and make sure we’re one of the teams that are getting a four-week break rather than continuing like League One and League Two are.

“If you ask me if I want a four-week break or not, I think you know what my answer will be.”

This afternoon, the Seasiders face a Swansea team that have won their last four games at home.

Nevertheless, the Swans remain below Blackpool in the league table in 12th, two points adrift of Critchley’s men and a further point away from the play-off spots.

The Welsh outfit have performed strongly in recent weeks though, winning four of their last six to guide them back up the league table after a slow start to the campaign.

“I think our home form has been fantastic,” head coach Russell Martin said.

“We haven’t been here for three weeks but we really enjoy being in front of our home supporters.

“Blackpool are really good at what they do and are really well coached. I’ve got a lot of respect for them and a lot of time for their manager and staff.”

Defender Ryan Bennett is suspended for today’s clash, but they are otherwise at full strength. Ben Cabango is available despite withdrawing from international duty with Wales.

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