Blackpool players should relish Sunderland's visit to Bloomfield Road
Neil Critchley has called on his Blackpool players to rise to the big occasion once again when they face promotion rivals Sunderland at Bloomfield Road today.
This afternoon’s clash sees fifth-placed Pool take on the third-placed Black Cats in what is a pivotal encounter at the top end of the League One table.
Critchley’s side, who are unbeaten in 15 games, have already beaten plenty of the sides in the top half of the table this season and he wants to see a repeat today.
The head coach said: “If you look at the points we’ve taken off the top teams, you look at the top two at this moment in time: we took four points from Hull, when it could easily have been six, and six points from Peterborough having beaten them home and away.
“When you look at the top two, we’ve more than matched them. We deservedly beat Peterborough home and away, we deservedly beat Hull at home and we nearly beat them away.
“We’ve proven we can play against the best in this division and beat them.
“Sunderland being third in the table, and I know we haven’t played them yet, but they’re the next ones and it’ll be up to us to prove we’re capable of doing it again.
“We understand the challenge we’ve got in front of us, we know how good they are but we’re on a good run, we’re confident and we’re at home, where we have a good record.”
While Sunderland have lost back-to-back matches, they had enjoyed a run of nine wins in 12 league games prior to that and remain well placed in the table.
“We’ve got two games against them in 10 days but we’ve also got two important games inbetween as well,” Critchley said.
“We’ll know about them, they’ll know about us. It’s two good teams with lots of good players and it’ll be two very good games of football I think.
“They’ve got a fantastic away record. I think their game against Wigan the other night was only the second time they had been beaten away from home this season and they don’t concede many goals.
“When you’ve got players like Lynden Gooch, Jordan Jones, Aiden O’Brien, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke, the list goes on, when they’ve got quality like that they’re always going to be a threat in any game they play.
“They’re good defensively but they’ve also got good options at the other end of the pitch which makes them a real threat, which they are.
“They’ve got experience in the team as well, so they’re a top team.”
One player Blackpool won’t be able to call upon today is loanee Elliot Embleton, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.
“He will be a miss, but we’re used to missing important and big players this season,” Critchley said.
“We knew he was never going to play in the Sunderland games, we’d already been preparing and thinking ahead in terms of the solution we’ll have to find for these games.
“I’m delighted for Elliot. He’s performed so well recently because, when we brought him in, he possibly went under the radar a bit.
“He’s not a player that created a load of headlines, he wasn’t a marquee signing, but I knew how good he was.
“I had seen him play for Sunderland for a number of years in their youth system and in the Under-23 team, as well as the England youth sides, so I knew what he was capable of.
“I’m delighted for him. He’s proven he’s a very good player and his performances for us haven’t surprised me.
“He’s fitted in to how we want to play and I think he’s enjoyed playing in our team because it suits him.
“He’s a Sunderland player and he’ll be going back to Sunderland, but if he helps us in the meantime like he is doing, then both parties will benefit from that.”
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