Neil Critchley provides encouraging update on the fitness of his Blackpool squad ahead of Hull City trip

Neil Critchley has provided an update on the fitness of his Blackpool squad ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Hull City.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 11:02 am

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The Seasiders head to the East Riding of Yorkshire looking to claim their third win on the bounce against a Hull side that were also promoted from League One last season.

The Tigers have struggled so far this season, having failed to win since the opening day of the campaign, picking up just five points from their nine games.

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Grant McCann’s men have failed to even score in seven of their last eight games and have only scored once since the 4-1 opening day win against Preston North End.

Neil Critchley will have Jordan Gabriel back available for selection after the right-back missed Saturday’s 1-0 win against Barnsley through self-isolation, due to his girlfriend testing positive for Covid-19.

Kevin Stewart, meanwhile, could also return to the fold on his return from a foot problem.

Critchley provided the latest update on Gabriel and Stewart during this morning’s press conference, while also giving more details on Reece James (foot) and Owen Dale (foot) and the long-term absentees Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles) and CJ Hamilton (foot).

Kevin Stewart could come back into contention for tomorrow night's trip to Hull

Jordan Gabriel and Kevin Stewart

“Jordan was back with us yesterday for training.

“He’s not been ill himself, it was his girlfriend, so there’s no issue with him and he’ll come back into contention now.

“We have no other issues to report from the weekend, but Kev Stewart will be in contention as well.

“He had a period last season before he came to us where he was without a club and he missed some football.

“He’s desperate to play, he wants to play all the time. You only have to look at his performance against Fulham, which was off the back of little football in pre-season, which just showed you the level of fitness he’s got.

“It’s been a frustrating time for him. It’s not been ideal, because you want your best players fit.

“But we also have to manage him because there’s 30-odd games to go yet and it’s a long season.

“Kev is desperate to be involved and we want him to be involved, but only if it’s right for him.

“I see sometimes when teams push players back quickly because of the pressure of results or performance, but they break down quite quickly.

“I’m very conscious of that and it helps we have good competition in the squad, so sometimes - I wouldn’t say be careful - but we can make the right decisions for the right players.”

Reece James and Owen Dale

“We got positive news from their recent scans. They’ve both been back on the grass running this week and hopefully we can step that up in the next few days.

“They’ve just been twisting and turning, pushing off, accelerating and de-accelerating and hopefully we can start introducing a bit more ball work to give them a kick of the ball.

“So far, so good with them. They won’t be appearing before the international break though, that’s for certain.

“They’re positive and it’s nice to see them back on the grass and running.”

Matty Virtue, Grant Ward and CJ Hamilton

“They’re all good.

“CJ was at the game on Saturday, so I saw him. Wardy was at the training ground last week so we spoke to him.

“Obviously it’s a frustrating time for them, because no footballer likes being injured. But sometimes it’s helped going through an injury before like Wardy has, Matty has as well a little bit. CJ, less so.

“Matty, we’re extremely pleased with the progress he’s making. We’re hopeful in the next few weeks he’ll be able to get back out on the grass.

“They’re not going to be appearing any time soon, but we’re happy with their progress at the moment.”

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