Blackpool finally return to league action tomorrow night as Brian Barry-Murphy's Rochdale visit Bloomfield Road. Neil Critchley's men are unbeaten in their last six home matches, winning five and also keeping five clean sheets.
The Seasiders currently sit in 16th place with 34 points but have numerous games in hand on the teams above them, having played the least amount of matches in the division (24), while the visitors lie just two points outside the relegation zone in 18th place, eight points behind Blackpool.
It will be Blackpool’s first match in over a week, with their last match being the 2-0 defeat at Ipswich Town, followed by home matches against Burton Albion and Peterborough United both being postponed due to a frozen Bloomfield Road pitch. Rochdale meanwhile come into the match on the back of two straight defeats, and just one victory in their last 10 league matches.
Tomorrow's match will come too soon for Blackpool’s Gary Madine. The striker hasn’t featured since Pool’s 5-0 victory over Wigan Athletic at the end of January due to a groin injury but isn’t too far away from a return. Midfielders Ethan Robson and Matty Virtue are both fit and available for selection, while long term absentees CJ Hamilton, Dan Gretarsson and Keshi Anderson remain sidelined.
The fitness of Rochdale captain Eoghan O'Connell will be assessed ahead of the match after the defender was forced off in the fist half of last weeks 4-1 defeat to MK Dons. Fellow defender Paul McShane and former Blackpool midfielder Jimmy Ryan will both miss out with injuries.
Blackpool (442): Maxwell; Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Ballard, Garbutt; Embleton, Ward, Dougall, Kaikai; Yates, Simms.
Rochdale (442): Bazanu; Osho, Roberts, Keohane, Done; Baah, Morley, Shaughnessy, Rathbone; Lund, Humphrys.
Ones to watch
Without the focal point of Gary Madine, Blackpool will be relying on Ellis Simms and Jerry Yates to provide the firepower up top. Simms, who is on loan from Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, netted twice on his ‘Pool debut against Wigan and will be hoping to grab his first home goals for the club. He is likely to be playing alongside Yates, who is the club’s top goal scorer with 10 goals in all competitions this season. Yates’ work rate and clever link-up play is a huge asset to Critchley’s side and is sure to give the Rochdale defence a tough test.
Rochdale have some threat at the top of the pitch themselves. Forwards Matty Lund and Stephen Humphrys have 18 league goals between them this season, and Lund won the League One Player of the Month award for January. 18-year-old winger Kwadwo Baah meanwhile won the EFL Young Player of the Month after netting twice and grabbing one assist in January, helping Dale to an excellent month where they scored 17 goals in just six games.
This will be the first meeting between Blackpool & Rochdale this season, with this fixture initially due to be played on Boxing Day. Last season saw just one match between where the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in August 2019, before the season was cut short due to COVID-19.
How to watch
The match will be available to watch on iFollow. Match passes for the game are available, priced at £10. Kick off 7pm at Bloomfield Road.