Blackpool v Cardiff City: Team news, predicted line-up and quotes from Neil Critchley
Blackpool return to league matters this weekend after their midweek exploits in the Carabao Cup.
Neil Critchley’s men will be looking to build on a solid start to their campaign, getting their season underway with a 1-1 draw away at Bristol City.
Shayne Lavery was the hero, scoring with virtually the last kick of the game to rescue a point for the Seasiders on their return to the Championship.
Confidence among the squad was given a major boost on Wednesday night as a much-changed side beat Middlesbrough in convincing style in the Carabao Cup.
Lavery was on the scoresheet for the second game running, while Callum Connolly and Keshi Anderson also notched their first goals of the season.
Pool will now face last season’s promotion rivals Sunderland in the second round of the competition.
But Critchley’s side now turn their focus to tomorrow’s Championship encounter against Cardiff City - the club’s opening home league game of the season.
A bumper crowd is expected as Bloomfield Road plays host to second tier football for the first time since 2015.
Their opponents also began the campaign with a 1-1 draw against last season’s play-off semi-finalists Barnsley.
Mick McCarthy’s side followed that up with a 3-2 win against League Two newcomers Sutton United in the cup.
Kenny Dougall is in line to make his first league appearance of the season having returned from injury in midweek.
The midfielder, who missed three weeks in pre-season after taking a knock to his knee, was given 45 minutes during the 3-0 Carabao Cup win against Middlesbrough.
Elsewhere, Daniel Gretarsson and Gary Madine are back in training. The duo might take a little longer to get match fit given they’re both recovering from summer operations, but the outlook remains positive.
Kevin Stewart, meanwhile, could return sooner than expected after the club received good news on the knock to the midfielder’s ankle he suffered in the pre-season friendly against Man City.
Demetri Mitchell is likely to remain out for a while with a knee injury, although - like Stewart - the prognosis isn’t as bad as Critchley first feared after the winger screamed in frustration after being forced off the pitch during the friendly against Morecambe.
It’s only Matty Virtue who is out for the long-term with an ACL injury, which will keep him sidelined for the first half of the season.
Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments
“They’re a very experienced team, a team full of men if you like.
“Obviously they have a fantastic manager who is full of experience himself and his contribution to Cardiff last season was huge. They nearly got into the play-offs near the end of the season, so he really turned their season around.
“I’m sure they will be looking to be play-off contenders again, so we know it’s going to be a really tough game.
“But we’re at home, we’re in good form, we’re feeling positive so we have to try and take our game to Cardiff.”
Kieffer Moore could come back into Cardiff’s starting XI after being named on the bench for their opener against Barnsley.
The Welshman, who starred at Euro 2020, has now recovered after testing positive for Covid earlier this summer.
If Moore remains a substitute, then summer signing James Collins, formerly of Luton Town, is likely to lead the line once again.
Both Marley Watkins and Josh Murphy could come into McCarthy’s thinking after impressing in the cup in midweek.
Like the Seasiders, the Bluebirds have had a busy summer so far in terms of recruitment, bringing in eight players in total.
That appears to be that though, as McCarthy has told the media he doesn’t plan to complete any further business.
Pool’s predicted line-up (4231): Maxwell, Connolly, Keogh, Husband, Garbutt, Dougall, Ward, Bowler, Lavery, Anderson, Yates
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