Pool star winning fitness battle

Stephen Crainey
Stephen Crainey
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STEPHEN Crainey may have missed a crack at the world champions last night but he is hopeful of facing West Ham on Saturday.

The Seasiders left-back was forced to pull out of the Scotland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Spain with an ankle injury, and he revealed he has since had numerous injections in a bid to sort the problem out.

But the 30-year-old is confident he will be ready for Pool’s return to Championship action at Upton Park following the two-week break.

Crainey said: “I’ve been struggling for a few weeks with my ankle, and with the three games in a week we had (before the international break) it swelled up a bit,” he revealed.

“I went to see the specialist and he recommended a couple of injections. They seem to have worked, so hopefully I’ll be OK for West Ham.”

“I’m disappointed not to have been involved against Spain, but I’ve been struggling for weeks and this was the only time I could get to rest it up.”

The Seasiders go into Saturday’s game on the back of their 5-0 win over Bristol City last time out and Crainey says confidence in the camp couldn’t be higher.

He added: “The boys’ confidence after the Bristol City game was sky high, we probably could have done with another game straight after it.

“But hopefully we can still get a good result at Upton Park. We were unlucky there last season in the Premier League (when the game ended goalless).

“They are going to be up there at the end of the season... although 10 or 15 other teams will fancy their chances too.

“We are just tucked in nicely behind the play-offs and we have three games next week (home matches against Doncaster and Nottingham Forest follow), so we want to get as many points on the board as we can.”

Crainey has been a virtual ever-present in Blackpool’s back four so far this season, despite the signing of two left-backs in the summer.

Matt Hill and Bob Harris both arrived at Bloomfield Road intent on taking Crainey’s place but the Scot insists this hasn’t affected his game.

“I’m someone who trains how I play anyway and the competition doesn’t change me really,” he said.

“If the manager picks me, then great; if not, you just have to work harder to get back into the team.

“I’m confident in my own ability and I want to play as many games as I can to help the team.

“The manager has always said he wants three teams to work with in training and he’s got that this season.

“Only he can tell you if we have too many players but it’s great competition.

“Whoever is training and playing the best will start on the Saturday, it’s as simple as that.”