Left-back boost for Blackpool ahead of Bristol City test as Neil Critchley also provides an update on Kevin Stewart and Sonny Carey

Blackpool’s left-back woes have been eased slightly with the return of Reece James to full training.

By Matt Scrafton
Friday, 4th February 2022, 9:57 am
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 10:04 am

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The Seasiders have been without a recognised player in that position for their last two games.

Luke Garbutt became the latest player to be sidelined with another knee injury, joining James and James Husband, who were already out.

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Right-back Dujon Sterling filled in on the left last week at Fulham, albeit as a wing-back as Neil Critchley opted to start the game in a 5-4-1 system.

While a decision has yet to be made on James’ availability for tomorrow’s game against Bristol City, it’s a big bonus for the Seasiders to have him back in contention.

Providing the latest team news during this morning’s press conference, Critchley said: “We’ve got a few bumps and bruises from last weekend’s game, but nothing serious. But we’ve still had to nurse one or two this week.

Reece James has joined in training this week, so that’s obviously positive news.

James has been out with a hamstring injury since mid-December

“The others are a little further away yet but making steady progress and hopefully we can reintegrate them back into the squad over the next few weeks as well.

“To have three potential left-backs out all at the same time is really bad luck. It’s really unfortunate.

“For Reece to come back this week and join in with the training is an added bonus.

“We just have to decide whether he’s done enough or whether he’s ready to be included on Saturday.”

Chris Maxwell (quad), Garbutt (knee), Husband (hamstring), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), Sonny Carey (metatarsal) and Keshi Anderson (hamstring) all remain sidelined.

As for Kevin Stewart, it’s yet to be seen whether the midfielder will be available to face the Robins tomorrow.

The 28-year-old has been away on international duty with Jamaica, making two sub appearances for his first action since returning from an ankle injury.

“He’s flying back in today,” Critchley said.

“He had some minutes for Jamaica, which has been good for him just to get back and play some football and feel like a footballer again, because he’s missed that.

“He had two involvements in their games and he’s now due back in today, so we’ll have to assess him later and decide whether we think he’s ready to be involved.”

The club are yet to make a call on whether or not Sonny Carey will require surgery on his fractured metatarsal.

It was initially expected the 21-year-old would need to be operated on, but his scheduled procedure had to be cancelled after he tested positive for Covid.

Because of his age, there’s a chance Carey’s bone could heal naturally on its own, but the club are still awaiting further news before making that call.

“He’s still in a boot and he will go for a scan shortly in the next few weeks,” Critchley said.

“That decision will be made once we get the results of that.”

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