Neil Critchley provides fitness update ahead of Blackpool's pivotal encounter against play-off rivals Lincoln City

Blackpool’s injury list is finally beginning to clear up according to head coach Neil Critchley.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 1:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 1:14 pm

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While Matty Virtue (ACL) and CJ Hamilton (metatarsal) are sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Seasiders are hopeful Kevin Stewart (ankle), Keshi Anderson (hamstring) and Gary Madine (groin) can play some part between now and the end of the campaign.

It comes after both James Husband and Marvin Ekpiteta returned to Pool’s match-day squad for their Easter Monday victory against Gillingham.

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“It’s been quite quiet this week in terms of injuries, which has been a little strange. We’ve got nothing new to report in terms of new injuries,” Critchley said, speaking this morning ahead of Saturday’s game against Lincoln City.

“As for the existing injuries, Kevin Stewart is out of his boot so we’re hopeful he can get back out on the grass in the next few days and we can start to progress him.

“Gary Madine is going for an update scan on Friday, so fingers crossed we get some good news and we can start to push him forward.

“It’s been a frustrating period for him. He was having a great season, doing well, leading the line and scoring goals and he was enjoying playing in this team.

Kevin Stewart injured his ankle during Blackpool's goalless draw against Fleetwood Town last month

“We were enjoying having him in the team because he was a real focal point for us and a real handful for defenders.

“He’s as frustrated as anyone and again, he’s impatient. He wants to be playing football, to get back out onto the pitch and help us have a good end to the season.

“Matty and CJ are obviously long-term, so we won’t be seeing them again this season.

“Keshi is back on the grass and he’s been doing some running now for the last week and so far, so good with him. He’s stepping up his programme and we’ll see how he is over the next few weeks.

“If we see Keshi before the end of the season that would be a bonus.

“I’d be hopeful we see Kevin again in the next few weeks. I’ll know more about Gary after his scan and Keshi is stepping up his rebah and has been back out on the grass.

“He’s desperate to be involved and he keeps telling me he will be ready to play and wants to be involved before the end of the season, but we have to be mindful that he’s been out for such a long period of time.

“Even if he was available, then we’d have to be careful with him because the last thing we’d want to do is re-injure him.”

Pool will also remain cautious with Ekpiteta, who still isn’t fully up to speed despite being named on the bench against Gillingham last week.

Critchley revealed after that game that the defender was included just in case he was needed if the game was tight and he was required to help see the game out.

“Marvin is fine. He had a good session on Tuesday, we have two sessions to go,” Critchley added.

“He’s part of the group, we’re happy he’s back. He’ll just need a little bit of time because he was out for a significant period of time.

“He will just need to find his rhythm, but we wouldn’t hesitate to use him if we felt it was the right thing to do because he’d be ready.”

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