Neil Critchley vows Blackpool will do their duty and play on if it's safe

Neil Critchley believes it’s Blackpool’s “duty” to carry on playing if they are able to do so.

By Matt Scrafton
Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 8:00 am

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Blackpool’s encounter against Huddersfield Town was one of only two games played in the Championship on Boxing Day.

It comes as the Omicron variant continues to wreak havoc in the English game, with positive cases being recorded in the vast majority of squads up and down the country.

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Neil Critchley feels football is providing a public service by playing on if possible

The Seasiders were already without Chris Maxwell, Luke Garbutt, Kevin Stewart, Matty Virtue and Grant Ward on Sunday through injury.

A further four players joined the list of absentees for the 3-2 defeat at Huddersfield, with Reece James, Callum Connolly, Ryan Wintle and Owen Dale all unavailable for the trip.

But as long as Pool have enough players to put out a side, head coach Critchley says they will play on.

“It’s a mixture of both (Covid and injuries). We’ve got a couple of Covid cases and a couple of injuries,” Critchley told The Gazette when asked about James, Connolly, Wintle and Dale.

“You could see some of the players coming on the pitch were playing out of position and Sonny Carey has had to come off with a kick on his ankle.

“It’s difficult to take now but we want to try and keep playing.

“We’ve got a duty to try and take to the pitch, if we’re safe to do so of course.

“If you look at the situation right across the country, I think we have a duty to do our best to keep playing.

“I read that thousands of people spent Christmas in self-isolation.

“You also have to think about the effect that has on people mentally.

“Just having a game of football for people to come out, support their teams and share the emotion of the game is really important.

“Obviously the Huddersfield fans go home happy and ours don’t but it was just great to have a game of football.

“I’m sure everyone enjoyed seeing a good game with lots of incidents and goals, so they’ll go home with lots to talk about rather than thinking about other things in the world at this moment.”

Around 2,300 Seasiders made the journey over the Pennines and, despite the result, were in fine voice from first whistle until the last.

“Incredible support,” Critchley added. “Given the situation we’re all facing, for our fans to travel like that…

“They were in fine voice all the way through. I think they appreciated the efforts of the players and we always appreciate their support.

“I’m glad we gave them two goals to really celebrate but I’m just disappointed we didn’t get something for them.

“With them being here in difficult circumstances and travelling over in not great conditions, it would have been nice for us to get something together.

“We’ve not quite done that unfortunately.”

The other Championship game to defy Covid on Sunday was at Middlesbrough, who are due to visit Blackpool tomorrow night.

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