Blackpool begin their home league campaign with a tough test against Cardiff tomorrow.
The Seasiders are so far undefeated under Ian Holloway (with the exception of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Rushden and Diamonds in pre-season), but their home form was poor last season: something that Holloway has vowed to improve.
Holloway will be hoping for a performance akin to the one that saw the Seasiders beat Premier League Everton 2-1 in their last pre-season friendly, rather than the ones that have seen them sneak a draw v QPR last weekend in the league and a win v Crewe in the cup, as the players continue to try and adapt to his new tactics.
Cardiff top the table after last weekend’s demolition of Scunthorpe, and despite selling several players over the summer (as they seem to do every summer), still possess a strong squad and should be towards the top of the table come May under the canny influence of manager Dave Jones.
‘We have a very gruelling schedule and it is frightening. People think footballers are lazy and do nothing for their money. I’m sorry but it isn’t like that at all when you’re in it.
‘We might have a nice weekend off once in a while because of an international break but then the League tells us we have to play three games in seven days, which is complete madness.
‘But never mind, let’s see what we can do against Cardiff on Saturday.’
Blackpool Team News:
Blackpool look set to be without Ben Burgess. Burgess, who scored his first goal since November against QPR last week, has been struggling with knee and groin injuries and limped out of training yesterday.
Daniel Nardiello could be in line to replace Burgess after scoring in the midweek victory v Crewe.
Neal Eardley could be forced to wait for his Blackpool debut, with Ian Holloway set to keep the ever impressive Alex Baptiste at right back: ‘Baptiste has been fantastic at right-back, though I think he is a centre-half. If he keeps playing like he has been playing then Eardley may not get in. Eardley has to force his way in.’
Otherwise, Holloway is expected to name a side very similar to the one that drew with QPR last weekend after resting several first teamers in the win over Crewe.
Two players who featured v Crewe who definitely won’t be involved tomorrow are Adam Nowland and Mark Hudson, who have both been released from their non-contract deals at the club, despite the former scoring in midweek.
New trialist Al Bangura (formally of Watford) won’t be involved as trialists are not allowed to play in league games, but there is the possibility of a new face making an appearance tomorrow, with Holloway revealing that he is talks with a player from Arsenal: ‘I’ve got a massive yes from Arsenal – from Arsene Wenger and from Liam Brady – about a player.’ It is not yet known who the player is or if they will be signed in time for tomorrow’s game.
Player to watch: Gary Taylor-Fletcher
GTF is key to Ollie’s new system, providing a key link between midfield and attack. At QPR he was full of running, supporting Ben Burgess and his performance on Tuesday night featured similar hustle and bustle: Holloway will be expected the same of his right winger tomorrow.
Cardiff Team News:
In the abscence of Mark Kennedy and Kevin McNaughton, Tony Capaldi (a rumoured ‘Pool target) is set to make a rare appearance for The Bluebirds.
Winger Chris Burke has recovered from a virus, whilst midfielder Joe Ledley has been passed fit to play.
Player to watch: Michael Chopra
Always seems to score goals at this level, especially when at Cardiff. Two goals last weekend against Scunthorpe show that the ‘Pool defence could be in for a busy afternoon, especially as Chops looks to mark his 200th club career appearance with a goal.
Match Facts & Stats
‘Pool have only won one of their last eight meetings with Cardiff, but The Bluebirds have only won four times in thirty one league visits to Bloomfield Road and have not won their first two fixtures of a league season for seven years, whilst the Seasiders have only lost one of their last twelve league and cup games.
Derby County (H)
Tuesday 18th August, 7.45pm
Coca Cola Championship