Blackpool hope to welcome back Dan Ballard soon: Team news ahead of Oxford match

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley expects to see Dan Ballard back in action soon.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 5:50 pm

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The Arsenal loanee has a hamstring injury which rules him out of Oxford United’s visit to Bloomfield Road on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the Seasiders’ head coach admitted the 21-year-old’s absence isn’t a great cause for alarm.

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Dan Ballard has made four League One appearances for Blackpool

“He’s OK, it’s not serious,” Critchley said.

“He’s been doing a little bit of work with Stuart (Irwin) the physio this week.

“It’s not going to be long term, he’s not going to be ready for the weekend but the games after that, we’re hopeful.

“It’s not definite but it’s not as serious as we first thought.

“Hopefully we can progress him along by the end of this weekend and see where we’re at at the start of next week.

“It’s just a bit of fatigue in his hamstring, it’s a little bit neural as well as muscle soreness.

“It’s not serious, we got a scan and he’s just going to need a period where he settles down for a little bit.

“Fingers crossed he should be OK sooner rather than later.”

Aside from Ballard, Critchley has a wealth of options at his disposal including Matty Virtue and Jordan Williams, both of whom got 45 minutes under their belt in the Papa John’s Trophy tie against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday evening.

He said: “Everyone is looking fine, you get the odd bumps and bruises after a game.

“Jordan Thorniley came off the other night near the end with 15 minutes to go, so we’ll assess him.

“Gary (Madine) got some whacks and knocks from the game last Saturday, so he’s had a few days of rest.

“Hopefully he’ll train and we have some good news.

“We manage every single player differently, they all get our respect but each individual is different and you have to treat each individual differently.

“We put a lot of thought and time into our training process, what we train and how we train.

“It’s really important that the players are on the pitch and training so we do what we think is the right thing to do for each individual.

“There’s certainly no days off here and there, ‘go and wrap yourself up in cotton wool for the next 48 hours’ because we need to improve the way we play.

“We need to improve the identity of the team and the only way you do that is if you train together out on the pitch.”

Pool welcome Karl Robinson’s Oxford players to Bloomfield Road on Saturday, though the visitors have not had the start anyone expected this season.

Having been just 90 minutes from the Championship last season, Robinson’s side currently occupy a place in the relegation zone.

The Seasiders boss is taking nothing for granted, though.

He said: “You’ve only got to look at their results against Hull, who are top of the league, at Portsmouth away, Ipswich – they’ve drawn all those games.

“They’re all clubs that are going well in our division, playing well, teams you’d expect to be at the top end of the table come the end of the season.

“They’ve competed with all of them, they could have easily won those games as well.

“I’d say they’re very close to picking up wins and they’ve got a lot of players in that squad from last season that got to the play-off final.

“They are better than where their league position suggests, and at some point, that will turn round. I’m just hoping it doesn’t start on Saturday.

“They’ve got quality players. We’ve seen the games, they’ve been more than a match for top sides.

“They’re very close to picking up some positive results and we’ll give them respect. You respect all the teams in this division.

“They’ve got good players and they’re better than where their league position suggests they’re going to be. That will pick up at some point.

“We’re focused, we won’t be complacent and we’ll be ready on Saturday.”

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