Blackpool striker Cullen closes on a return

Mark Cullen picked up a hamstring injury against Doncaster Rovers in August
Mark Cullen picked up a hamstring injury against Doncaster Rovers in August

Blackpool striker Mark Cullen has taken another step closer to making his long-awaited return from injury.

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The 25-year-old has been sidelined for more than five months after being forced to undergo surgery on his hamstring back in August.

But his manager Gary Bowyer has revealed that the forward has now stepped up his recovery in training.

“There’s still no timeframe on Cully but he’s miles better because he’s now kicking a ball,” Bowyer told The Gazette.

“He’s really progressed because he’s striking the ball.

“I was watching him doing finishing drills on Wednesday so it was good to see him putting the ball in the back of the net again.

“That will do him the world of good, that feeling, so he’s doing well.”

The Seasiders struggled for goals in the absence of Cullen and his strike partner Kyle Vassell, who has already missed large chunks of this season.

Vassell returned to action last month and has since played three games, but he missed Blackpool’s 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.

Bowyer revealed that was a case of looking after his striker and not wanting to over work him.

“We certainly hope Kyle will come back into contention for this weekend’s game against Peterborough,” Bowyer added.

“We’re monitoring him this week before making a decision on him.

“If he is back, it will give me a bit of a headache in terms of team selection.

But this is why you have a squad and we want our strikers to give us a problem when others are out injured as they have been this season.

“Big Armand (Gnanduillet) has been superb for us coming off the bench in the last couple of games then the way he led the line on Tuesday was fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Bowyer says the substitution of Viv Solomon-Otabor was nothing serious after the winger hobbled off in the final stages of Tuesday night’s game.

“That was just cramp, he’s never ran so far in his life,” he joked.

“I think it was a shock to the system, but he’s got to do that again this weekend.

“There’s no other knocks. The lads did run themselves empty though so it’s important they recover.

“We’re fortunate we have an extra day this time with the game being on a Sunday.”

The Seasiders go into this weekend’s game looking for their first back-to-back victory since September, having won for the first time in six games at the DW Stadium in midweek.

They also go in search of their first win at Bloomfield Road since October 17; the 2-1 victory against relegation strugglers Bury.

Their opponents Peterborough haven’t won in any of their last five outings.