Dan Ballard a Wembley doubt for Blackpool but Neil Critchley will give defender time to prove fitness to face Lincoln

Blackpool are sweating over the fitness of Dan Ballard ahead of Sunday’s League One play-off final.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 8:00 am

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The defender suffered a groin injury during Friday’s semi-final second leg against Oxford United and was taken off at half-time as a precaution.

The 21-year-old has not trained since and there is doubt over the Arsenal loanee will return to fitness in time for the Wembley showpiece against Lincoln City.

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Dan Ballard (centre right) celebrates reaching Wembley with Elliot Embleton but the Blackpool defender sat out the second half of Friday's semi-final against Oxford

Head coach Neil Critchley said yesterday: “He’s still a little bit stiff and sore.

“He didn’t train today, so we’ve got to see how he feels day by day because he’s still not right at the moment.

“But we’re only on Tuesday and we don’t play until Sunday, so we will give him as much time as possible.

“However, when you’ve got Marvin (Ekpiteta) and Jordan (Thorniley), people who can step in to the level they can, that makes it easier in some ways but more difficult in others.”

Fitness permitting, Ballard will link up with Northern Ireland after Sunday’s final and he isn’t Pool’s only injury doubt for the promotion decider.

Grant Ward (calf) and Sullay Kaikai (hamstring) took no part in the semi-final ties after picking up knocks against Sunderland.

Critchley added: “Hopefully I will get some idea in the next 24 to 48 hours. Sullay and Wardy were stepping up their rehab programme this morning (Tuesday), so worked separately from the group.

“But I’ve had positive news from the session they did and we still have quite a few training sessions to go, so we want to give them every opportunity to be involved.

“They are two important players for us, so fingers crossed they’re ready to join in.

“Apart from that, we’ve had everyone training. There are no other issues to report.

“We’ve got a clean bill of health from Friday, which is a bonus because we’ve had our fair share of injuries and we have a few others out.

“But we’re hopeful one or two might appear. If not, it will be a similar squad as the last few weeks.”

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