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OPPOSITION VIEW: Bristol Rovers boss looks ahead to Blackpool clash

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke
Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke is looking to build on his side’s Christmas form as well as their mini-break as they prepare to make the long journey north to Blackpool.

The Gas earned five points out of a possible nine from their three festive fixtures - drawing with Walsall and Oldham Athletic before beating Portsmouth on New Year’s Day.

But they’ve not played since then, with their normal league fixture cancelled last weekend due to the FA Cup third round ties.

It means Clarke’s side come into this weekend’s clash against Blackpool on the back of a 12-day break, while the Seasiders have played twice in that period.

“There’s been plenty of hard work on the training pitch but we did have a little bit of a rest last week,” Clarke said.

“We’ve been working hard on things and working hard to improve, as we always do.

“For us we just want to build on our three promising games over Christmas.

“We had a fantastic win against Portsmouth, which is something for us to build on.

“Blackpool are next to us in the league albeit we’ve got a game in hand, so it’ll be a tough test like they all are.”

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Rovers are likely to come up against their former goalkeeper Joe Lumley this weekend, who made 19 appearances for them on loan from QPR in the second half of last season.

Lumley, who agreed a loan deal with Blackpool earlier this week, was a target for Clarke during the summer but they weren’t able to agree a deal.

Clarke said: “Joe was never available on a permanent transfer as I wanted to come away from loans.

“We’ve got to start building the club and try and get in that top six.

“We’ve come a long way very quickly and sometimes you hit a bit of a brick wall, which has hit us a little bit this season but it’s about building again.

“Our first priority is to regain our League One status while we rebuild in the background and improve the squad.”