Blackpool travel to Portsmouth facing a potential injury crisis in goal with both senior recognised goalkeepers struggling for fitness ahead of the Championship clash.
Manager Ian Holloway is quoted as to have said that both Matt Gilks and Mark Halstead are major doubts for the game at Fratton Park. One has a groin injury and the other is carrying a hamstring knock.
That leaves the Seasiders with two options: to either sign a goalkeeper on an emergency loan or go with youngster Chris Kettings – who incidentally is highly thought of at the club.
Holloway did say that the club had offered terms to an unattached stopper but that he had failed to either accept or reject Pool’s offer. Two who are currently without a club are Maik Taylor and Richard Kingson.
But Pool carry on down to the South coast in the hope that a defence looking more solid than it has done for some time will be able to aid the new goalkeeper through 90 minutes against a Portsmouth side that has only scored twice in their four competitive home fixtures this season.
And they will be without former Seasider Luke Varney, who serves a ban after his straight red card at Hull City last week.
The winger has been Steve Cotterill’s main source of goals so far this campaign along with midfielder David Norris.
Fresh from signing a new deal at Bloomfield Road, Gary Taylor-Fletcher is buoyant about Pool’s start: ‘We didn’t play as well as we can on Saturday against Cardiff but it is one in seven games that we haven’t played well in.
‘If you look at the next three games they should be ones that we are looking to pick a minimum of six points from and if we do that we should be in the top six going into the international break.
‘People will moan when we have not played well but look at where we are in the League and it is only early on.
‘We are still getting players in and getting used to each other, where we are is magnificent and we are happy with that.’
Portsmouth midfielder Aaron Mokoena admits that his side must bounce back after losing at Hull last week: ‘We’re all looking forward to Saturday’s game against Blackpool because it gives us a chance to make amends for the Hull defeat,’ he said.
‘It was a disappointing display after we’d performed so well against West Ham the previous week. So this is a big game for us and we have to show up. We need to be at our best.
‘Blackpool are a fantastic side with experienced players. They’ve got lots of players who have played in the Premier League. But we’ve got a talented squad and have had some good training sessions so far this week. We’ve looked sharp.’
Portsmouth Team News:
Striker Dave Kitson is still missing with a rib injury that has kept him out of the last two games.
Varney is sidelined with a ban.
Player to watch: David Norris
The former Plymouth Argyle captain joined Pompey in the summer after being released by Ipswich Town.
He’s notched two goals from midfield so far this season and is renowned for being tenacious in the tackle and good on the ball.
Famous for his handcuff goal celebration at Bloomfield Road which made national news after his public display of solidarity for team-mate Luke McCormack who was jailed for the deaths of two boys by dangerous driving.
Blackpool Team News:
As said, Pool are in a tough position between the sticks but a positive decision should be made before the game.
Neal Eardley could be named in the squad as Ian Holloway looks for ball-playing defenders across the back four. Ollie was critical of Craig Cathcart’s lack of urgency to collect possession last week and could be tempted to throw Eardley in, while moving Alex Baptiste to centre back.
Player to watch: Kevin Phillips
The 38-year-old is showing that class is permanent as he scored his fifth goal of the season last week against Cardiff with an absolute pearler from outside the area.
He has already bailed the Seasiders out on two occasions this campaign to earn valuable draws against the Bluebirds and Brighton. His influence will be key to an otherwise dry attack.
Match Facts & Stats
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Coventry City (A)
September 27, 2011