Blackpool v Preston North End: Team news, predicted line-up and pre-match quotes from Neil Critchley
After eight long years, West Lancashire rivals Blackpool and Preston North End finally renew acquaintances tomorrow.
You have to go all the way back to 2010 for the last time the two sides met one another in a league fixture.
The Seasiders haven’t beaten the Lilywhites since 2009, while their last home win came back in 1997.
But Neil Critchley’s men will be confident of consigning those figures to the history books following their remarkable comeback victory against Reading in midweek.
It means Pool, who moved back up to 12th in the Championship, have won five of their last eight games.
Preston, meanwhile, tasted victory for the first time since the end of August on Wednesday night when they overcame high-flying Coventry City 2-1.
Frankie McAvoy’s side sit 18th, three points adrift of the Seasiders.
It goes without saying tomorrow’s encounter at Bloomfield Road is a sellout, with a ferocious atmosphere to be expected.
There’s an outside chance both Dujon Sterling and Kevin Stewart could come into contention for Blackpool’s derby against Preston tomorrow.
Sterling has missed Blackpool’s last two games through illness, while Stewart was absent at Reading on Wednesday night as a result of the knock he took to his ankle against Nottingham Forest last weekend.
While the Seasiders have no fresh injury concerns from their remarkable comeback win against Reading in midweek, they could be handed a boost or two for the big one on Saturday with Sterling and Stewart possibly coming back into contention.
Neil Critchley also hasn’t ruled out throwing Owen Dale in from the start after the winger’s dream debut off the bench on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old, who has only just recovered from a foot problem, scored and grabbed an assist within nine minutes of entering the fray.
Elsewhere, the Seasiders will still be without Chris Maxwell (quad), Reece James (foot), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), CJ Hamilton (foot) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring).
Daniel Gretarsson could be back available having suffered mild concussion with Iceland during the recent international break.
Preston, meanwhile, could have Ali McCann and Sean Maguire back available for selection after the duo missed the club’s midweek win against Coventry City.
Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments
“I think the Nottingham Forest game last week, there were nearly 28,000 there and there was a fantastic atmosphere, so you can draw from those experiences.
“How we handled it, how we could handle it better, you have to remember you’re playing a game of football.
“The atmosphere is one thing, the occasion is one thing, but what happens on the pitch is the most important thing.
“We have to remain focused on our job. Yes, we need to bring passion and intensity, it’s a derby game so you know you have to bring certain qualities.
“But we have to remember what we’re trying to do because that’s what brings you success on the pitch.
“It’s only three points, but these three points mean a little bit more, there’s no doubt about that. I’m not hiding behind that.
“It means a lot and whoever comes out on the right side at the end of the game, those three points will feel a lot sweeter than they normally would.
“Preston are a good team though, an established Championship club with experienced players at this level.
“I believe they’ve only lost one in 10 games and they’ve played some tough teams during that run, so we know it’s a tough game.
“What a game to look forward to though. We’re in good form, they had a win the other night which will give them a lift as well, so it’s set up for a really fantastic day.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” PNE boss Frankie McAvoy said.
“We’ve sold out our allocation and we probably could have done so six times over. That just shows the importance of the game to our supporters.
“On the pitch I’m just hoping calm heads and calm minds are there because sometimes people can get carried away.
“It’s important the players keep focused on the challenge ahead of us.
“As this game has got closer I’ve not been able to get the words of our old kit man Steve Cowell out of my head.
“When Alex Neil and myself came here, Steve would always be telling us that this was the fifth biggest derby in the world!
“Steve has been a Preston fan all his life and we will be doing our utmost to win this game for the fans. It’s a game, it’s three points but we know the significance of it. Preston and Blackpool are only a few miles away from one another.”
Pool’s predicted line-up (4231): Grimshaw, Gabriel, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler, Carey, Dale, Yates
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