Critchley: Having A Versatile Squad Has Been Vital

Neil Critchley believes the versatility within his squad is crucial, as the Seasiders head to Birmingham City this weekend.

Critchley has had to contend with several injuries to important players within his squad since the start of the season, with the likes of captain and number one Chris Maxwell out of action in weeks, as well as the likes of Shayne Lavery, Reece James and Matty Virtue.

"Having a versatile squad is really important, given the injuries some of the squad have picked up this season," Critchley said.

"We worked hard in pre-season on assembling a squad and bringing in the right type of player to ensure all of the pieces in the jigsaw all fit. With the help and support I get here, we spend a lot of time preparing for the future and planning ahead. I think the players have shown why they've been brought to the football club, and I think some have shown in recent weeks how versatile they are. 

"You need that flexibility within your squad at times, because it is a tough and long season, and there's going to be times when players are called upon to play in a different position. Having players who are adaptable and can play in different positions can really help."

Two players who continue their recovery from recent periods on the sidelines are Chris Maxwell and Richard Keogh, and Critchley is hopeful both will be available for selection soon.

"Richard is continuing well with his recovery. He's continued to do some running work and ball work and has had no adverse effect to what he has done so far, so we're hopeful he will be back involved soon. 

"Maxi continues to step-up his training and type of work he has been doing. He's doing more kicking work and longer kicking and he feels a lot more confident than where he was. It will be a big bonus to get them both back into the squad, which will provide more competition within the squad and give me a slightly bigger selection headache!

"The good thing about this squad is that it is a healthy group, in terms of the quality and the numbers that we have. We always make a decision based on when and if a player can be back involved if it is right for them, and I think the players respect that."

Ahead of Saturday's match at Birmingham City, the Blackpool Head Coach is expecting another physical challenge for his side to contest with.

"Birmingham had a good start to the season, or picked up and improved and that has maybe dropped off a little recently, but that's because of the injuries they have had," he said.

"They've got a strong squad of players with a lot of experience and men within their team, so you know you're going to have to stand-up to the physical challenge that they will bring on Saturday. They're a difficult side to play against, as most are in this division. There's not much between many of the sides, so it will be another tough test for us on Saturday."

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