McDonald makes changes ahead of Blackpool’s weekend off

Martin Paterson will make his first Pool start tonight
Martin Paterson will make his first Pool start tonight
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Blackpool are still expected to make a host of changes for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Port Vale, even though it will be followed by an unexpected blank weekend.

Saturday’s League One fixture at Bradford City has been postponed due to the Bantams’ international call-ups.

Bradford successfully requested the postponement after Rory McArdle joined James Meredith and Lee Evans on international duty.

After back-to-back wins in the past week, Pool boss Neil McDonald will give run-outs to fringe players in tonight’s second round tie at Vale Park (7.45pm).

It means Charles Dunne, Jose Cubero and Kwame Thomas could all be promoted to the starting 11, with striker Martin Paterson set to make his first start for the club.

“I’ll make changes but in the right areas,” said McDonald. “I want the players who haven’t played to play on Tuesday. There will be changes.

“It gives other people a game but we have also got a momentum now, even over the last seven days.

“We want to keep that going and if we can keep that going in the cup, then great.

“There have been plenty of lads who have been working hard in training and we’ll try to get all those on the pitch. They deserve a chance and they’ll get that at Port Vale.”

Pool go into tonight’s game in their best form for two years after wins against Chesterfield and Swindon.

It’s the first time they’ve played in the Football League Trophy since losing on penalties to Accrington Stanley in 2006.

It’s a competition the Seasiders have good history in, having won the trophy in 2002 and 2004, but McDonald is more concerned about simply keeping the spirits up.

He said: “It’s another game to keep the momentum going. That’s all we are thinking about.

“We want to win the game to do that, not because we are thinking about going all the way in a cup competition.”

One player Pool will be without is Lloyd Jones, who could be out for up to three months. The Liverpool loan defender returned to his parent club for treatment last week after scans revealed major damage to his ankle.

He limped off during last Tuesday’s win against Chesterfield and it now looks as though the injury could be long-term.

McDonald explained: “Lloyd’s had scans and it looks like he’s going to be out for months with his ankle.

“We’ll support him through that and as soon as he’s fit we’ll get him back as quickly as we can.

“We’re all sorry he’s picked up the injury because he’s been developing and progressing with each game.”

Midfielder David Norris will miss tonight’s game after limping off with a calf strain against Swindon, while back-up keeper Kyle Letheren is a doubt after dislocating his finger in the warm-up on Saturday.

McDonald said of Norris: “He played three games in a week after a long period without a game.

“He’s done brilliantly but he’ll be given a rest. He’s struggling a little.”

A new date for the Bradford game will be announced in due course. Pool’s next match after tonight will be at Coventry on Saturday week.