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Critchley: Attentions Turn To Shrewsbury

Seasiders Set For Return To Action

29 December 2020

Neil Critchley says attentions have quickly turned to tonight’s match against Shrewsbury Town after two recent fixture postponements.

The Seasiders have had to wait 10 days for a return to action in Sky Bet League One, having watched games against Sunderland and Rochdale called off at short notice, with the latter coming on Christmas Day.

“Unfortunately, the game against Rochdale was off, which was a bit frustrating because that’s the Sunderland and the Rochdale games we were looking forward to. It’s obviously out of our control, but we wanted to play those games and carry on the good form we’re in,” Critchley said.

“However, we’ve not been able to do that and we now turn our attentions to Shrewsbury. We know we have to be fully prepared and ready for facing an in-form team.”

The side will head to Shropshire without captain Chris Maxwell and Matty Virtue, who are self-isolating following positive COVID-19 tests. Both players continue to be monitored with a view to a New Year return to training.

“They’re both OK. They’ve obviously had symptoms and are recovering. They’ll get checked over on New Year’s Eve and hopefully we’ll get some good news,” Critchley revealed. “They will then have to follow the EFL Return to Training protocol. Fingers crossed we can welcome them back into our squad as soon as possible.”

The absence of Maxwell means that emergency loan arrival Sam Walker will finally get to make his debut for Blackpool tonight, having previously pencilled in the Boxing Day game against Rochdale. 

“It has been frustrating for him because he came up on Christmas Eve to train with the group, I had a good conversation with him and then to get the call that the game was off on Boxing Day was hugely frustrating for him and us.

“But he’s ready for the game against Shrewsbury and we thank him for coming up and thank Reading for allowing Sam to be here. Hopefully he can integrate into the squad quickly, work within the group we’ve got and help us out against Shrewsbury.”

In the midst of a number of Tier changes throughout the country, Shrewsbury remains in Tier 2 for tonight’s game and will therefore have a limited number of supporters in attendance, offering an atmosphere inside the ground.

“It’ll be strange, but a nice strange. You want to feel that atmosphere and you want to hear that noise and feel the emotion within the ground. If you said to the players, would you take 2,000 home or away, or no supporters, then they’d always take supporters. Hopefully we don’t hear too much from them and manage to keep them quiet, but it’ll be a nice feeling and one we’re all looking forward to,” the Seasiders’ Head Coach added.

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