Youth team star Luke Mariette 'fully deserved' his spot on the Blackpool bench for Middlesbrough clash

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Neil Critchley says Luke Mariette fully deserved his spot on the Blackpool bench during Wednesday night’s game against Middlesbrough.
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The 18-year-old was handed a shirt number on the day of the game to help boost numbers in Critchley’s squad, which is currently decimated by Covid, injuries and suspension.

Fellow Under-19 star Jack Moore was also given a number, while 20-year-old Cameron Antwi was recalled from his loan spell with National League North side AFC Telford United.

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Mariette, however, was the only youth-team member named on the bench - although Oliver Casey, who qualifies as an Under-21, was also included among the substitutes.

Mariette has been a standout performer for the youth-team this season and has caught the eye in Blackpool’s recent FA Youth Cup outings.

The central midfielder has already had a taste of the international stage, too, having been capped by Wales’ Under-18s earlier in the year.

On Mariette’s inclusion in Blackpool’s match day squad, Critchley told The Gazette: “He’s been fantastic recently, especially in the Youth Cup games.

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Luke Mariette was named on the Blackpool bench for their midweek game against MiddlesbroughLuke Mariette was named on the Blackpool bench for their midweek game against Middlesbrough
Luke Mariette was named on the Blackpool bench for their midweek game against Middlesbrough

“That’s a nice moment for him and fully deserved. I wouldn’t have hesitated to put him on the pitch.

“It’s a nice moment for him and deserved and who knows, we might see one or two more of them on Saturday.”

There’s every chance Mariette could be involved for Blackpool’s New Year’s Day clash against Hull City on Saturday.

As it stands, Kenny Dougall is the club’s only fit central midfielder, although Critchley revealed he played through the pain barrier against Middlesbrough.

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Callum Connolly, a defender who can fill in higher up the pitch if required, starred alongside Dougall and Keshi Anderson, who has predominantly played on the wing this season.

Fellow central midfielders Matty Virtue, Kevin Stewart, Ryan Wintle and Grant Ward, meanwhile, all remain absent.

Reece James, another defender who is capable of playing in midfield, is also sidelined.

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