Blackpool midfield duo in comeback contention

Sean Longstaff in action at Wigan last month
Sean Longstaff in action at Wigan last month

Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer hopes both Callum Cooke and Sean Longstaff will come back into contention for Saturday’s trip to Blackburn Rovers.

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Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer hopes both Callum Cooke and Sean Longstaff will come back into contention for Saturday’s trip to Blackburn Rovers.

The on-loan midfielders have been absent in recent weeks, Longstaff nursing a hip problem and Cooke having trouble with a heel.

Cooke’s injury led him to return to parent club Middlesbrough for a few days to be examined by the Riverside Stadium medical team.

But the 21-year-old, who hasn’t played for almost a month, was due to return to training this week.

Longstaff missed Pool’s win at Portsmouth but would have been available to play last weekend had the home game against Northampton Town gone ahead.

Speaking to The Gazette on Monday, Bowyer said: “Sean trained on Friday, so he would have come into contention for Saturday.

“He backed that up with another training session on Monday.

“Callum will train on Tuesday, so we’ll see how he goes. But he’s missed a week or two, so we’ve got to be steady with that one.”

Longstaff has played a leading role for Pool this season, scoring seven goals from midfield to stand second to Kyle Vassell in the club’s goalscoring charts.

The 20-year-old Newcastle United player extended his loan deal until the end of the season in January, having originally signed a six-month deal last summer.

Blackpool’s only other injury concerns ahead of their trip to Ewood Park are long-term ones, but both Mark Cullen and Jim McAlister are said to be making good progress.

Cullen, who has been out more than six months with a hamstring injury, is back in training, while McAlister is not far from a return to the training pitch after breaking a leg 13 months ago.

The Seasiders go into Saturday’s game in good form – they were unbeaten in five matches last month, a run which included away wins at Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth.

Bowyer’s 17th-placed side are five points clear of the League One drop zone and have a game in hand on three teams below them – AFC Wimbledon, Northampton and MK Dons.