Blackpool vs Cardiff City preview: How to watch, team news, kick-off time, predicted lineups and ones to watch
Blackpool's Shayne Lavery in action against Manchester City during pre-season /
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Following a five year hiatus from the Championship, the Tangerines initiated their return with a respectable 1-1 draw at Bristol City, as new recruit Shayne Lavery marked his debut with a last-gasp equaliser.

Additional momentum was gained from an empowering 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening, where  Lavery accompanied Callum Connolly and Keshi Anderson on the scoresheet.

Meanwhile, Cardiff's inaugural fixture was summarised by structure, strength and solidity but not enough firepower as they also were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Barnsley, firm in their conquest to reassemble the framework after the departures of manager Valerien Ismael and his most trusted component, Alex Mowatt, to West Bromwich Albion.

A favourable cup tie against newly-promoted League Two outfit Sutton United eventually went by the script, though, as the Bluebirds recovered from initial shakiness to run out win 3-2 through goals from Marley Watkins and Josh Murphy.

They will now face Premier League unit Brighton and Hove Albion on the week commencing August 23 in the next round, while Blackpool welcome yet another North East-based club in Sunderland.

Team news

Neil Critchley has recently been granted a significant boost ahead of Saturday's encounter, with dynamic midfielder Kenny Dougall completing 45 minutes on Wednesday evening after returning from injury.

Dougall's presence in the middle of the park is paramount for the way in which the former Liverpool academy coach desires to formulate his game plan, and his importance was illuminated with an emphatic brace in last season's play-off final against Lincoln City

Experienced operator Kevin Stewart is expected to be absent until next weekend, though, having also suffered a knock-back in this campaign's build-up.

Nonetheless, Blackpool supporters will be thankful to have their extensive injury list shortened, which also contains the likes of Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue, Demetri Mitchell and former Bluebird Gary Madine, who gained promotion with the South Wales club in 2018.

On the other hand, the unforgiving demands of Championship football are immediately taking a toll on Cardiff's selection in depth. 

Impressive summer signing Mark McGuinness is set to endure up to four weeks on the sidelines along with defensive colleague Ciaron Brown, after the two suffered ankle injuries.

Consequently, Cardiff are now left with a mere three central defenders, which paints a fairly bleak picture for a side that tend to deploy a back five. 

It is yet to be seen how Mick McCarthy adapts to the perplexing problem; talented young defender Oli Denham has earned rave reviews for his performances with the academy and may just be in for a shout, however, midfielder Marlon Pack was shoehorned there at the end of last term, too.

Pack's displays will have done his chances no harm, and his ability to step out of the defensive line and distribute possession well enabled City to keep control of the game that little bit more.

Murphy and Tom Sang both marked their returns from respective injury woes with encouraging auditions in Tuesday's victory, although Isaac Vasselland Lee Tomlin still appear unavailable for contention.

Joe Ralls hobbled off upon the hour mark during Cardiff's draw with the Tykes, and his scheduled recovery date is currently unconfirmed.

Predicted lineups

Blackpool (4-4-2):

Maxwell; Connolly, Keogh, Husband, Garbutt; Bowler, James, Dougall, Anderson; Lavery, Yates

Cardiff (3-4-3):

Phillips; Flint, Nelson, Morrison; Sang, Vaulks, Pack, Ng; Murphy, Moore, Giles

 

Ones to watch

Blackpool - Shayne Lavery

Having made the leap of faith to trade Northern Irish football for the Championship during the summer as an integrant of Critchley's survival bid, Lavery has wasted no time in adapting to the many changes he has been tasked with overcoming.

The former Linfield hitman has found the back of the net in both of his side's opening two competitive games thus far and will be hoping to maintain the momentum into Saturday's showdown, though he will be pitted up against a solidified team renowned for their defensive durability. 

Nonetheless, he is quickly proving he possesses the footballing ammunition required to construct a success story at this level, meaning experienced stalwarts such as Sean Morrison and Aden Flint are set to have an arduous afternoon on their hands if he continues his promising form.

Still 22, Lavery already boasts an array of experience and, more importantly, a real schooling in rippling goal-nets, evidenced by an outlay of 37 goals in 67 outings for the 55-time Irish League Championship winners. 

Encouragingly, he has the right individuals to further instil growth and progression into his game. Last campaign, striker Jerry Yates struck home 20 times to spearhead Blackpool's attack, and he will be able to to transmit his nous, know-how and pedigree upon the young forward.

Also, on-loan Arsenal prospect Tyreece John-Jules will be gunning for a starting spot and his youthful endeavour is sure to keep Lavery on his toes and developing.

 

Cardiff - Josh Murphy

Entering the final year of his contract, City maverick Murphy embodies all the vast idiosyncrasies of an archetypal second-tier winger. 

Sure enough, the rocket-heeled wide man is divisive. He often emerges as a figure for hot debate and his talent does not always shine through.

Yet, when Cardiff have a fully firing, fully confident and fully embedded version of the player that bedazzled Premier League backlines during his first season with the club, few would dare to contest the natural ability shouldered by the £11M acquisition. 

At his best, he can implement a fresh passage of play into Cardiff's attack, with his directness and willingness to take on opponents truly offering that all-important extra edge. 

Those qualities came to the fore on Tuesday, when Murphy came off the bench late on to notch the Bluebirds' third goal of the affair and provide breathing space. 

Receiving the ball high up following a quick break, Murphy accelerated deep into the Sutton half before cutting in on his left foot and firing past a helpless Denis Bouzanis

The goal itself incorporated all the hallmarks of his early success at the Cardiff City Stadium, where he would routinely operate in deep areas and utilise his directness in the 18-yard-box.

You feel that McCarthy will be directing the attacker to perform that move as often as possible this term, with a promotion push clearly the mission and Murphy a player with the capabilities to play a big part in such ambitions. 

Previous meetings

Battles between the two have been few and far between in recent years as a result of Blackpool's descent down the footballing ladder, and they last met in 2015.

There, Cardiff ran out victors in an enthralling match that finished 3-2 on home turf, as Joe Mason scored before an Eoin Doyle brace inspired a captivating triumph.

Andrea Orlandi and Peter Clarke scored for the visitors, though, courtesy of two assists from Jamie O'Hara.

Interestingly, Madine was also starting that day for Blackpool during his six-month loan spell with the club from Sheffield Wednesday. He would go on to join Bolton Wanderers the subsequent summer, spending three years with the Trotters before departing for Cardiff in January 2018.

Though he was a component within a promotion side in the 2017/18 campaign, his impact was rather minimal as he failed to register a single goal following the switch, eventually rejoining Blackpool in 2020. 

However, while various Championship encounters have bore fruit for either side, an epic Wembley battleground is the best remembrance for matches between Blackpool and Cardiff.

The two faced each other in the 2010 Championship play-off final, where the Tangerines came back from behind twice to claim a dramatic 3-2 win and, to date, their only top-flight promotion.

How to watch

Due to domestic streaming, the EFL is making a return to the stance prior to the pandemic, where live broadcasting of any fixture in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is prohibited between the hours of 2:45-5:15 on Saturday afternoons.

However, supporters in the UK are able to follow the action through an audio pass, while overseas supporters can watch the game live through an International match pass.

The match starts at 15:00 BST.

 

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