Derby day headache for Blackpool boss?

Armand Gnanduillet's display on Tuesday has given Gary Bowyer something to think about
Armand Gnanduillet's display on Tuesday has given Gary Bowyer something to think about

Gary Bowyer admits it is something of a bittersweet feeling having a near fully-fit squad available for today’s Fylde coast derby.

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The likes of Kyle Vassell and Kelvin Mellor are expected to come back into contention for Saturday’s visit of Fleetwood Town, while Jim McAlister has also returned to training.

It means Bowyer will have something of a selection headache, especially in attack where the Pool boss will have to decide whether to stick with Armand Gnanduillet – who scored in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Northampton Town – or to reintroduce Vassell.

Bowyer said: “There were a few bumps and bruises suffered during the Northampton game but nothing that should stop anyone being ready for Saturday.

“I’ve nearly got a fully-fit squad now and of course that’s what you always want.

“But it also gives you the biggest problem of all as a manager. Any manager will tell you that’s the worst bit, having to leave players out of the squad – especially our lads because we’ve got a really honest bunch of players who have worked ever so hard all season for each other.

“Now they’re all fit, I’m going to be disappointing a few which is not the easiest bit of the job I’m afraid.”

Gnanduillet led the line superbly for Pool on Tuesday, but Bowyer wants the Frenchman to maintain those levels for every game he plays.

He said: “I said it to Armand when he came off, in my opinion that was the best game he’s had since arriving at the club.

“I think he had a massive impact in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Luton last season, when he went on, scored his header and was a handful.

“He’s had limited opportunities, I understand that, but when he has he’s not had that level of performance that he produced on Tuesday night.

“The penny has got to drop for the big man because he’s got to realise what he is and what he’s about.

“He did that against Northampton and I think he set the tone for us from the very first minute winning the header from Ollie Turton’s throw-in.

“Having him playing at that level, coupled with the return of Vassell, it presents me with a problem for sure.

“Vass is still our top goalscorer but he’s got Nathan Delfouneso and Sean Longstaff breathing down his neck.

“So he will want to be playing between now and the end of the season for these last four games because he will want to finish as top goalscorer, just as he was last year.

“That’s going to make it interesting but I’ll also have Kelvin Mellor back if he comes through training okay, so it really does present me with some fantastic options.”