Blackpool handed fresh injury blow ahead of Barnsley clash – but there is better news elsewhere

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Blackpool have been handed yet another injury blow ahead of this weekend’s game against Barnsley.

Neil Critchley’s squad has been depleted by injuries and positive Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, missing as many as 10 players at one point.

Those concerns have only been added to this week with news that James Husband and Keshi Anderson will now also be missing for a “number of weeks”, according to Pool’s head coach.

It comes after the pair both suffered hamstring injuries during last week’s FA Cup defeat to Hartlepool United.

“They will both be out for a number of weeks,” Critchley said.

“We’d probably expect Keshi to be out a little longer than Hubby.

“It’s a blow because they’ve been good players for us, but we had injuries last year and we’ve had injuries this year. Keshi missed a lot of last season unfortunately.

Keshi Anderson suffered a hamstring injury during last week's cup tie

Keshi Anderson suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s cup tie

“We’ll just get on with it and do the best we can as we always do, because it creates opportunities for other people in the squad.

“I think we’ve got good competition for places and we’ve got a good, strong squad, so hopefully we will see the benefit of that in the second half of the season.”

There is better news elsewhere though, with Critchley revealing Kevin Stewart is back in training.

The midfielder has endured an injury-hit campaign this season, making only three appearances in total.

His potential return is timely given Critchley is without a number of options in central midfield and is having to rely on Callum Connolly and Kenny Dougall as his only two fit performers in that position.

“There’s positive news with the fact Kev Stewart has been training this week,” Critchley added.

“He started joining in towards the back end of last week so that’s a positive for us.

“We saw Luke Garbutt back on the pitch last week which was a positive for us as well.

“Reece James, we’re hoping he starts doing some running either today or tomorrow which would be a positive step in the right direction for him.

“Sonny Carey is waiting to have an operation on his foot. He had Covid last week so unfortunately he couldn’t have his operation.

“We’re still waiting on Chris Maxwell, but Matty Virtue has started joining in a little bit of training which is fantastic news for him. It’s really good to have him back around the group.

“It’s much too soon and early to be contemplating involving him in the squad, but that’s great news for him.

“Grant Ward is a little bit further behind.”

Stewart is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the starting line-up given his injury problems.

But given Pool’s lack of depth in that position, Critchley is delighted to have the 28-year-old back in contention.

“When you look at him and see him doing his running, you wouldn’t think he’d been out injured,” he said.

“He’s very diligent in the work he does, he’s very conscientious looking after himself and he has been a miss for us. We miss his presence and experience on the pitch.

“To go without him for virtually the first half of the season has been a loss to us.”

When asked if Stewart is in contention for Saturday’s trip to Barnsley, Critchley replied: “He’s training, so that puts him in contention yes.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to work out at the moment our midfield options are slightly light, so if he is available would be a bonus to us at this moment in time.”