Blackpool head coach doesn't want another Christmas Day repeat

Neil Critchley is desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s festive drama when the Seasiders’ Boxing Day clash was called off on Christmas Day.

By Matt Scrafton
Friday, 24th December 2021, 4:45 pm

Pool’s head coach had barely finished tucking into his Christmas dinner when he received a phone call to inform him the trip to Rochdale had been postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak among the opposition squad.

Given the spread of the new Omicron variant, similar news can’t be totally discounted ahead of Sunday’s scheduled game against Huddersfield Town.

“With the situation we’re in, it can just happen out of the blue and so quickly when you’ve prepared your training schedule, what you’re going to do with certain players and all of a sudden that changes,” Critchley said.

Richard Keogh returned to training on Thursday

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“That can be difficult to deal with. The best example I’ve got is last year when I received a phone call on Christmas Day to tell me the game against Rochdale on Boxing Day was off.

“We were prepared, we were ready and everything changed there and then.

“Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again this year and we can all enjoy our Christmas dinner!”

The Seasiders are now having to test their players on a daily basis and, as of Thursday morning, had recorded one further positive case.

It came after Richard Keogh tested positive last week, missing the 3-1 win against Peterborough United at Bloomfield Road as a result.

However, the defender returned to training on Thursday after the self-isolation period was reduced from 10 days to seven.

“It’s been difficult if I’m honest,” Critchley said in terms of the current uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

“With uncertainty comes doubt and sometimes you’re not in control of those things. People look for answers and you haven’t got them.

“We can only do what we can do here and control our environment as much as we can, take all the safe protocols we need to do.

“Even then, if Premier League clubs are having games called off, then it just shows you a virus can get to anybody basically. No-one is safe really.

“We just have to be as safe as we can.”

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