Neil Critchley insists his depleted Blackpool side will be ready for league opener at Bristol City

Neil Critchley insists his depleted Blackpool side will be ready for their curtain raiser against Bristol City.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:40 am
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:42 am

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Neil Critchley insists his depleted Blackpool side will be ready for their curtain raiser against Bristol City.

The Seasiders have endured a disrupted pre-season as a result of a Covid outbreak among the first-team squad.

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When taking into account injuries and other absences, Pool were without 16 players for last weekend’s 1-0 friendly win against Carlisle United.

While the likes of Oliver Casey and Shayne Lavery returned for the midweek defeat to Burnley, Critchley was still without 13 members of his squad.

Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder), Matty Virtue (ACL) and Gary Madine (groin) all remain injured, while both Marvin Ekpiteta and Keshi Anderson have knocks that kept them out of action against Sean Dyche’s side.

Elsewhere, Bez Lubala is still unavailable due to a ‘club matter’, while Teddy Howe and Joe Nuttall continue to be overlooked.

Neil Critchley

Stuart Moore, Jordan Thorniley, Kenny Dougall, Kevin Stewart and Josh Bowler have also been absent for the last couple of weeks.

Critchley, who is hopeful of having some players back available for Saturday’s final friendly at Morecambe, is confident his side will be ready for the trip to Ashton Gate on Saturday, August 7.

“I think we’ve got more to give, we’re going to improve further,” he said.

“We’ve got to remember it’s a 46-game season. We lost our first game of the season last year against Plymouth and we got promoted.

“The first game is not the be-all and end-all. We want to be ready for it, of course, and we will be ready.

“But pre-season is there for you to practice the things you hope we are going to show in the games over the course of the season.

“Against Burnley, we found that a lot more difficult - playing out from the back under high pressure, high intensity, we didn’t quite get it right.

“If we didn’t get our defensive line right, then they could break the line and they break through you, so we got tested at every level.

“Physically, tactically, technically and psychologically you have to stay in the game because if you’re finding it hard against good opponents, you then have to stick at it.

“That mental resilience and character was really tested and I think we came out, not with flying colours, but not far off.”

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