Date:Friday April 27 2012
Brighton's, and to an extent West Ham's, relative nosedive towards the end of the season proves that the quest for Championship honours is a marathon, not a sprint. And as Blackpool travel to Millwall for their final regular game of the campaign, safe in the knowledge of a playoff place, it is vital they remain to jostle for position like a long-distant runner at the beginning of a race; because that's where we are at: right at the beginning. Nobody needs reminding that whoever the Seasiders face in the semi-finals has a huge bearing on how they will fare in the promotion hunt.
A victory at the New Den will give Pool a favourable second leg at Bloomfield Road. A defeat could give the team the unenviable task of playing West Ham United - given the Hammers do not pip Southampton to automatic promotion.
So, when Ian Holloway said in his weekly presser that he would be giving fringe players a run-out against Kenny Jackett's side, it was met with slight confusion. As is consistently the case, the manager may be misunderstood. By fringe he meant the unlucky crop who've fallen away recently and by run-out, he most certainly means in preparation if called upon. The position the team finds itself in should be applauded and the fact the manager is able to utilise his squad is uncharted territory. The likes of Ludovic Sylvestre could determine whether another date at Wembley awaits, underlining the importance they are awarded with some game time.
The Lions, on the other hand, definitely do not have anything to play for, but will want to finish a slightly disappointing season - when looking back at the high standards they set last time out - and will provide stiff opposition. That could, and arguably should, pale into insignificance when the eleven chosen in tangerine go out and attempt to keep this impressive spate of good form going, because consistency is everything. It served previous Blackpool teams well (2007 and 2010) and a 'nearly perfect 10' would mean more Premier League football for the Fylde Coast.
Sylvestre, along with Nouha Dicko, seems to be a certain starter. It will be fascinating to see how he fares alongside Angel Martinez (if selected) in a midfield trio likely to include Keith Southern. Martinez's Spanish ball retention skills are at least on a par with the flamboyant Sylvestre. The two at work could give Pool a case of the Swanseas.
For the hosts, they are reported to have included Josh McQoid in their squad after his return from Burnley, while midfielders Josh Wright and Liam Trotter - the latter previously attracting top flight interest - are fit.
Date:Friday April 27 2012
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