Blackpool take on Crystal Palace at Bloomfield Road in the hope of staying in touch with the Championship playoffs.
The Seasiders’ inconsistency so far this season means they are three points off the top six when their football has merited more.
And they welcome Dougie Freedman’s side, who are two points further back, as the perennial overachievers so far. Exciting prospects Wilfred Zaha and Sean Scannell offer trickery and pace which would light up any game of football.
With that in mind, Pool must be wary of the Eagles’ ability to hit teams on the break. But you have to wonder whether they will have other things on their mind, with a Carling Cup semi-final second leg at Cardiff to contend on Tuesday.
Ian Holloway has had an up and down week in the transfer window. He has been knocked back by a number of targets but did capture John Fleck on loan.
‘We’ve sorted out one or two bits and pieces regarding his contract and I met him for the first time on Thursday, when he trained with us.
‘He is a lovely lad, bubbly and full of enthusiasm. He is also very talented and hopefully we can work together to try to improve his prospects.’
But Ollie admitted that he isn’t sure how far down the line the club are with Mark Howard’s new contract, which is set to run out after the game: ‘The ball is in Mark’s court and I am hoping he whacks it back into ours and joins us again. But I do’`t know anything about where we’re up to with that. I leave it to the chairman.’
Blackpool Team News:
The Seasiders welcome Fleck, who could start in a front three full of wingers if he were to join the in-form Matt Phillips and Tom Ince.
The on-loan Rangers man might get his chance so soon because of a hamstring injury picked up by Lomana Lua Lua last week.
Matt Gilks looks like he could dislodge Mark Howard in goal, given the latter’s contract negotiations stalling.
And there are big decisions to make at the back and in midfield, with Pool fully fit in both areas for the first time in a long time.
Player to watch: Barry Ferguson
The Blackpool skipper is back from his three-match ban and should slot into the midfield three again. It is up to him to continue driving the team forward as he did do prior to his red card at Birmingham on New Year’s Eve.
Crystal Palace Team News:
Freedman could be tempted to rest a host of players ahead of their crucial Carling Cup tie at Cardiff on Tuesday. Palace lead the Bluebirds by a goal to nil and are 90 minutes away from Wembley.
Nathaniel Clyne is back from a virus which has kept him out of the last three games, and the manager says they have a near fully fit squad to choose from.
‘At the moment we have virtually full-strength squad training so it gives some extra options ahead of the weekend,’ he said. ‘We haven’t been able to play our first choice side for some time so it is a boost that we seem to be getting people back again.
‘Blackpool is a tough place to go but then again there are no easy games in the Championship. We’ll go there confident we can get the victory to keep in touch with the other teams chasing the play-off positions.’
Player to watch: Julian Speroni
Admired by Blackpool supporters for many years – largely for his flamboyant style of goalkeeping – Speroni is a firm favourite when travelling to Bloomfield Road.
He is, however, liable to make a mistake, which could prove costly for the visitors.
Match Facts & Stats
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Saturday January 28, 2012
Sheffield Wednesday (H)
FA Cup 4th round