Right, so hands up who is expecting Blackpool to tame the Lions tomorrow in a trouncing?
After the 5-0 win at Leeds United on Wednesday night, supporters might be forgiven for thinking more of the same as Millwall travel to Bloomfield Road.
They should perhaps think again. Kenny Jackett’s side are on a five match unbeaten run (including three wins on the bounce) which has moved them comfortably away from the relegation zone.
Those last three matches have yielded 10 goals with just the one soliatary reply – a stunner from Jimmy Bullard.
From afar, it had looked like ‘The Wall’ were missing Norwich’s summer signing Steve Morison, who scored 17 goals last season to comfortably finish in the top half of the Championship.
No such fears, Darius Henderson is having a renaissance at The Den, scoring eight in his first 11 at the club and provides a focal point for the side. He’s ably helped by new loan signing Jay Simpson who starred in the 4-1 win over Ipswich.
Without the suspended Ian Evatt, Pool’s back two of Craig Cathcart and Alex Baptiste will have their hands full.
But so should the away back four. Whoever Ollie picks will either be on a high from Wednesday or chomping at the bit to get back involved.
There are question marks over whether Lomana LuaLua can start again so soon after his brace at Leeds but Kevin Phillips is waiting in the wings to find his scoring boots again.
The game on paper doesn’t look the most glamorous, but should provide an interesting spectacle. If Pool are serious about promotion this season, they need to be able to string victories together and that must start now.
The Seasiders loaned Paul Bignot to Plymouth, signalling their first move to trim the squad accumulated over the summer.
The manager says the backroom staff have had a rethink about the size of squad they want and need:
‘I wanted a development squad but if you`re not playing football are you not developing,’ said Holloway.
‘What happened was that in the summer our chief scout (Billy Dearden) left and we needed to sign 11 or 12 players. That is a big ask to get them all right, even if they are the top 12 on your list.
‘When we didn’t get the top 12 on our list for whatever reason – wanted more money, different club, higher division – we had to look elsewhere.
‘We will look at what we do and try to correct it if there is a problem, because we felt that the development squad would work and I don’t know if it is.
‘I don’t know if it is right to have lot of people here who might not be getting in my team. I’d rather let them go, loan them out and then we`ll move on from there.
‘Myself and the chairman had a meeting about it recently. There are certain people who will be in my plans, who I will loan out and then have back.
‘There are others who aren’t in my plans, who we will loan out and they can go. I think that’s the best way to do it, so I am going to trim my squad.’
Kenny Jackett on the game: ‘If we can get a result up there it would be a good batch of games for us before the international break.
‘The games come in batches, with one on top of the other, and then all of a sudden we get two weeks off.
‘It’s a big break and it would be easier if it was spread out.
‘We must compete as much as we can but we should also go up there with plenty of confidence.’
Blackpool Team News:
Ludovic Sylvestre was a stand-out performer on Wednesday but might miss out due to fitness fears.
The same goes for LuaLua, however both might be on from the start given the international break next week.
Ian Evatt is suspended and Jonjo Shelvey is expected to begin in a more attacking role with Gary Taylor-Fletcher on the bench.
Player to watch: Barry Ferguson
Described on Radio Leeds that he ‘completely controlled’ the game at Elland Road, Ferguson is showing signs of living up to his reputation in the Blackpool midfield.
Maybe Holloway has struck gold with Sylvestre alongside him…
Millwall Team News:
Therry Racon has recovered from an ankle injury, while Josh McQuoid was a substitute in midweek and has shaken off a virus.
James Henry should come on from the bench.
Player to watch: Brian Howard
Brian Howard made his name nationally with several barnstorming performances for Barnsley in the FA Cup – including the winner at Liverpool.
However, his Championship form has always been up and down. If the home midfield three can get on top of him, the Reading loanee could be in for a long afternoon.
Match Facts & Stats
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Saturday November 19, 2011