Blackpool head to Carlisle looking to get pre-season preparations back on track after Rangers friendly was scrapped

Blackpool will be looking to get their pre-season preparations back on track today after a disruptive week.

Saturday, 24th July 2021, 8:00 am

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The Seasiders head to Brunton Park to take on League Two side Carlisle United in their third friendly of the summer, but only their second in front of the paying public.

Neil Critchley’s side opened their account with a 2-0 win against Southport earlier this month, which was their first slice of action since the Wembley triumph at the end of May.

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Pool were initially expecting to then head off to Berkshire for a training camp at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.

But those plans had to be cancelled at the last minute, the players and staff instead heading north of the border to Edinburgh.

Upon their return, a side made up of a mixture of first-team players and youngsters lost 3-1 to Accrington Stanley at Lancashire FA’s headquarters in Leyland.The club’s preparations ahead of their return to the Championship were due to ramp up in midweek with a glamour friendly against Rangers

But the tie against Steven Gerrard’s SPL champions had to be cancelled late on due to a Covid outbreak among the Blackpool squad.Around 4,500 Rangers fans were expected to make the trip down to the Fylde coast.

Neil Critchley's men make the trip to Brunton Park this afternoon

With those affected isolating, the remainder of Pool’s squad were able to continue training in preparation for today’s game against Carlisle - which goes ahead as planned.

Today’s opponents have yet to concede in their five friendlies to date, however their games so far have all come against non-league opposition.

The Cumbrians are managed by Blackpool-born Chris Beech, who made over 80 appearances for the Seasiders between 2003 and 2006.

He led the Cumbrians to a 10th placed finish in League Two last season.

Other local links among the Carlisle squad include Blackpool-born, former Manchester United academy graduate George Tanner and ex-Seasider Callum Guy.

For the Seasiders, they'll be without Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder) and Gary Madine (groin) once again, the pair continuing to recover from the operations they had after last season.

It is hoped, however, the duo will be able to return to training towards the back end of pre-season.

Elsewhere, Matty Virtue (ACL) is a long-term absentee and is expected to miss the opening half of the season.

Kevin Stewart could be a doubt, having limped off with a knock during Pool’s opening pre-season friendly of the summer at Southport earlier this month.

Kenny Dougall should feature having returned from his break, having been given an extra week’s rest due to his international appearances for Australia after May’s Wembley final.

Fans will also get a first glimpse of Richard Keogh, who became the club’s eighth signing of the summer last weekend.

There will be no live stream of today’s friendly, but you can find build-up, team news and live updates on The Gazette’s blog.

Following today’s encounter, Critchley’s men face Premier League side Burnley at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night before signing off pre-season with a trip to Morecambe.

The Seasiders begin their league campaign at Bristol City on Saturday, August 7.

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