Blackpool's former Preston North End keeper could have a role to play today

Neil Critchley believes former Preston North End man Chris Maxwell can still have a big influence on his Blackpool players ahead of today’s derby.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 8:00 am

Pool’s number one is currently sidelined with a torn quadricep, a setback he suffered during the win against Blackburn Rovers prior to the international break.

While the club captain is expected to be unavailable for some time, Maxwell is still keen to play his part and made the trip with the squad to Reading on Wednesday night.

The 31-year-old, who was also at the City Ground last weekend for the defeat to Nottingham Forest, will no doubt be reminding his teammates how important this afternoon’s encounter is to the club’s supporters.

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Maxwell made the move to Bloomfield Road in January 2020 after spending four years at Deepdale.

“He’s a big influence on the squad,” Critchley said.

“He came to Forest with us, he came to Reading and just one or two words to the right player at the right time can sometimes be better coming from the players than it is from me.

“Maxi is very good at sharing his knowledge and his experience, but he does it in the right way and in a good way.

“Just having his presence in the dressing room is really important and I think it shows the togetherness and spirit we’ve got in our dressing room. We saw that in abundance during the second half on Wednesday.”

The Seasiders should be brimming with confidence heading into today’s encounter, the first derby in eight years, after their remarkable midweek comeback.

Having trailed by two goals at the break, albeit undeservedly, Critchley’s men roared back in the second half to win 3-2, their goals coming via Owen Dale and a Jerry Yates brace.

Critchley, whose side have won five of their last eight, knows today’s game will be an entirely different one to Wednesday night.

“It was a great feeling in the dressing room after the game and, travelling back, it was a good feeling,” Pool’s head coach said.

“It did give everyone an enormous lift and belief in what we’re doing.

“If we had lost but played the same way, my opinion about the group of players we’ve got wouldn’t have changed. I still think we’re on a way to being a good team and we showed that on Wednesday.

“Saturday’s game will be different and we’ll have to produce a different type of game if we’re going to win.”

There’s an outside chance both Dujon Sterling and Kevin Stewart could come into contention for today’s derby.

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 Forest last weekend.

Critchley also hasn’t ruled out throwing 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.

The former Crewe Alexandra man had to bide his time to make his first outing after a foot problem was spotted during his medical.

Elsewhere, the Seasiders will still be without Reece James (foot), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (Achilles), CJ Hamilton (foot) and Shayne Lavery (hamstring).

Daniel Gretarsson could become available again, 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 they missed the midweek win against Coventry City, their first league victory since August.

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