Neil Critchley insists Josh Bowler’s continued absence isn’t related to a potential Blackpool exit

Neil Critchley insists Josh Bowler’s recent absence has nothing to do with a potential summer exit from Bloomfield Road.

Monday, 2nd May 2022, 8:00 am

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Critchley told The Gazette Bowler was rested in midweek for the 2-0 win against Barnsley, so it surprised many that the former Everton man was missing again for Saturday’s game.

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Bowler has featured in 42 of Blackpool’s 45 league games this term - and, according to Critchley, that’s the reason behind the 23-year-old not being named in his squads for the games against Derby and Barnsley.

Bowler, who is widely expected to depart the club this summer, has only started one of Blackpool’s last six games.

When quizzed if supporters can be forgiven for putting two and two together, Critchley told The Gazette: “No honestly, he’s played so many minutes this season. He’s played more minutes than anyone I think.

“Until the last few games, I think he’s been involved in every single game until the game against Birmingham where he didn’t get on.

Josh Bowler was left out of Blackpool's squad once again on Saturday

“Josh was here at the game and he’s still in consideration and in our thoughts for next week’s game against Peterborough.”

Bowler has played 2,825 minutes this season, which puts him third behind Marvin Ekpiteta (3,481) and Kenny Dougall (3,350).

The wide man is out of contract at the end of the season and despite the club holding an option to extend his deal by a further year, the in-demand winger is widely expected to leave.

Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest both wanted his services in January, while Premier League sides Brentford, Leicester City, Norwich City and Wolves have since been linked.

Bowler has scored eight times this season, claiming a further three assists.

His strike in the 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth in February was voted Blackpool’s goal of the season by the club’s supporters.

Bowler was presented with the award after Saturday’s game at Bloomfield Road.