Neil Critchley on Blackpool's centre-back crisis and the chances of Daniel Gretarsson coming straight back into the side

Neil Critchley admits he’d have no qualms throwing Daniel Gretarsson back into the first-team on his return from injury.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 9:12 pm

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The 25-year-old is back available for selection after missing two-and-a-half months of action with a hamstring injury.

With James Husband and Marvin Ekpiteta currently injured and Dan Ballard now away on international duty, that leaves Gretarsson and Jordan Thorniley as the only available centre-backs.

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Critchley says he’s got full confidence that Gretarsson, who last featured on January 9 in the FA Cup win against West Brom, is fit enough to feature and won’t suffer from “rustiness”.

He told The Gazette: “He became a Dad for the second time but that was on Friday, so it wasn’t right for us to take him down to Oxford but he’s back in and back in contention for the game on Tuesday night.

“Some players, when they’re out for a period of time, lose condition and pick up a bit of rustiness and take a bit of time to find rhythm.

“Daniel is not like that. He’s a really good athlete and he couldn’t have worked any harder. He’s so diligent in his work and he’s trained for the past two weeks now.

Gretarsson last played for Blackpool on January 9

“If we had to and if we felt it was the right thing to do, I’d have confidence in him to come into the team and perform.”

The only other realistic alternative would be to move Ollie Turton into the centre of defence and recall Jordan Gabriel at right-back.

Ballard links up with the Northern Ireland squad having scored his second goal of the season during Saturday’s win at the Kassam Stadium.

The centre-back will be aiming to build on his five caps during his country’s triple header against Italy, USA and Bulgaria.

“Dan has shown what a really good player he is and potentially what a good player he could become,” Critchley added.

“He’s getting used to that Saturday-Tuesday rigour of League One football, which he’s never experienced before.

“But I think he’s grown in confidence knowing that physically and mentally he can do that.

“But international experience for him is going to be fantastic, he’s got some really good games to look forward to so I’ll be watching them with great interest.”

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