Blackpool able to name stronger squad than anticipated for final game of 2021 against Middlesbrough

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Neil Critchley has been able to name a much stronger squad than anticipated for Blackpool’s clash against Middlesbrough tonight – their final game of 2021.

 

Despite Blackpool’s camp being decimated by Covid, injuries and suspension, the Seasiders are still able to name a competitive squad.

Critchley is without 10 players in total, Jordan Gabriel and Sonny Carey the latest two to join the absentee list.

Gabriel misses the first of two games through suspension after being sent off during the 3-2 defeat at Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day.

Despite being dismissed for two yellows, Gabriel misses two games having been sent off for Nottingham Forest earlier in the season.

Carey, meanwhile, is facing an extended period on the sidelines after suffering a suspected metatarsal injury at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Dujon Sterling comes in for Gabriel in a like-for-like replacement, while Richard Keogh and Callum Connolly both come back into the side for Carey and Josh Bowler, who drops to the bench.

Callum Connolly comes back into the side after missing out on Boxing Day

Callum Connolly comes back into the side after missing out on Boxing Day

The changes see Blackpool match up their opponents and go with five at the back, as Daniel Gretarsson keeps his place in the side alongside Keogh and Marvin Ekpiteta. James Husband and Sterling are the two wing-backs.

Connolly comes into the side to patch up a depleted central midfield alongside Kenny Dougall and Keshi Anderson, while Jerry Yates and Gary Madine continue in attack.

Despite the growing list of absentees, Critchley is still able to name a strong bench which includes Bowler, Demetri Mitchell, CJ Hamilton and Shayne Lavery.

Luke Mariette, a star performer for the club’s Under-19 side this season, is also included in the 18.

Elsewhere, Chris Maxwell, Luke Garbutt, Reece James, Kevin Stewart, Matty Virtue, Ryan Wintle, Grant Ward and Owen Dale all remain sidelined through a mixture of injuries and Covid.

Middlesbrough, meanwhile, make two changes from their Boxing Day win against Nottingham Forest, which extended their run to four victories from five under new boss Chris Wilder.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Sterling, Ekpiteta, Keogh, Gretarsson, Husband, Connolly, Dougall, Anderson, Yates, Madine

Subs: Moore, Casey, Mariette, Mitchell, Bowler, Hamilton, Lavery

Middlesbrough: Lumley, Dijksteel, Bamba, Fry, Tavernier, Peltier, McNair, Crooks, Jones, Hernandez, Sporar

Subs: Daniels, Taylor, Hall, Lea Siliki, Payero, Watmore, Ikpeazu,

Referee: Stephen Martin