Holloway faces big cup choices

Thomas Ince about to shoot
Thomas Ince about to shoot
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IAN Holloway says he faces some “unbelievable choices” as he ponders his Blackpool side to face Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Holloway played a severely weakened team in the third round last year, when his Premier League Pool side went out at League One Southampton.

But with local bragging rights at stake this weekend and no top-flight survival to fret about, there will be no repeat.

Holloway intends to name a strong side, though given how well his much-changed team played in Monday’s 3-0 home win over Middlesbrough, the manager has some difficult decisions to make.

Tom Ince, Chris Basham and Angel Martinez, for example, will all expect to keep their places, as will an excellent back four that kept a clean sheet.

However, with new loan signing Danny Wilson available for his debut, plus Elliot Grandin and Gary Taylor-Fletcher vying to return to the side, Holloway clearly has tough choices.

The manager said: “I have some unbelievable choices and it is going to be hard picking a team, especially when everyone is fully fit ... but that’s how I want it.

“I had some really difficult decisions to make before the Middlesbrough game and I am delighted at the way it panned out. Everybody I put in gave me a fantastic stint.”

As for those he left out, Holloway added: “I felt I got that right because it would have been asking far too much for them to play two games in 48 hours.

“So I did what I did and it worked because we looked fresh and buoyant.”

Holloway gave his players two days off to recharge their batteries after a busy festive period, and they return to training tomorrow ahead of the Highbury derby.

However keen the clubs are to win on Saturday, the top priority of both is promotion and Holloway reckons Pool are one of 16 teams that can still win the Championship.

The Seasiders boss has predicted all along that the division would be unbelievably tight, and at present six points separate fifth-placed Reading and Barnsley in 16th.

Pool are seventh on 38 points, and Holloway acknowledges his team face a titanic battle to qualify for the play-offs.

He added: “It is in the lap of the gods at the minute. This league is so tight and who knows how it will go?

“Any one of 16 teams can win it at the minute. That is quite phenomenal but it is great because it’s what sport should be all about. This season is going to be like one of the rides on Blackpool Prom.

“We’ve seen that in our last two games – to go from Birmingham to Middlesbrough was quite a transformation. I actually thought we played quite well at Birmingham, but unfortunately they scored and it all went horribly wrong from there.