Derby County v Blackpool: Team news, predicted line-up and pre-match quotes from Neil Critchley

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Blackpool head to crisis club Derby County this weekend looking to finally get back to winning ways.

 

The Seasiders are now without a win in their last six games, a run that has also seen them fail to score in their last three.

Despite dropping down into the bottom half of the Championship table, Neil Critchley’s men are still sitting fairly comfortably with an 11-point buffer to the relegation zone.

Sitting inside that bottom three are Wayne Rooney’s derby, who continue to be mired in off-the-field strife.

The Rams, who remain in administration and on the lookout for a buyer, have been hit with two points deductions this season, which has seen them docked a total of 21 points.

It leaves the East Midlands outfit bottom of the table on just one point, making relegation to League One an almost certainty.

Despite their troubles, Rooney’s side have performed admirably this season and, had they not been hit with their deductions, they’d be sat just five points adrift of the Seasiders.

The Seasiders head to Pride Park this weekend

The Seasiders head to Pride Park this weekend

Their recent form hasn’t been great though, with just one win to their name from their last 11 outings. That run has mostly included draws though, with just four defeats suffered during that time.

Andy Woolmer, who refereed Blackpool’s 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City at the start of the season, will take charge of Saturday’s game at Pride Park.

Team news

Richard Keogh will be desperate to make his first appearance since the defeat to Stoke City at the start of December.

The defender, who spent seven years with Derby and made over 300 appearances, returned to the bench last week having recovered from a calf injury.

Elsewhere, Blackpool could have Gary Madine back in contention after the striker missed last week’s defeat to Luton Town with a groin injury.

Critchley hoped to have the 31-year-old back in training on Thursday and Friday.

Luke Garbutt (knee), Oliver Casey (ankle) and Kevin Stewart (ankle) have all made good progress in their recoveries too, although they’re unlikely to be involved this weekend.

Matty Virtue (ACL) and Grant Ward (achilles) both remain sidelined.

Derby, meanwhile, will be without striker Sam Baldock (hamstring) and defender Lee Buchanan (knee), while there’s doubts over Jack Stretton (knee/illness) and Krystian Bielik (knee).

Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments

“Considering the circumstances, Wayne Rooney, his staff and the players have done a remarkable job.

“It’s a fantastic football club and I feel for the people that are there now and the supporters, because it’s those people that suffer for things that happened in previous years.

“If you look at the team, you think they’re only on one point but they’re obviously not because of their points deductions.

“They’re much better than that and they’ve got good quality players in their team. It was only a couple of games ago they beat Bournemouth at home and drew with Fulham away. That tells you what a good team they are.

“They’re good at playing at Pride Park as well, so we know it will be a really difficult game.

“They’ve got nothing to lose and that can be dangerous. Everyone will be expecting them to get relegated but they’ll be out to prove people wrong, which will make them a dangerous opponent.”

Opposition view

“The lads have had the opportunity for a bit of a rest and time with their families this week, and they needed that,” Wayne Rooney said.

“It’s been a good week and we’ve done good work ahead of Blackpool.

“The players are still motivated and are working extremely hard.

“Blackpool are a difficult team to play against. They’re very stubborn and they create a lot of chances.

“As always, we’ll be doing everything we can to get three points.”

Pool’s predicted line-up (442): Maxwell, Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Keogh, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler, Anderson, Lavery, Yates