Blackpool hoping for good news on Marvin Ekpiteta as Neil Critchley provides update on Arsenal loanee Dan Ballard
Blackpool boss Neil Critchley is keeping his fingers crossed that Marvin Ekpiteta’s injury isn’t as bad as first feared.
The centre-back was forced to hobble off the pitch last night during Blackpool’s scrappy, hard-earned 1-0 win against Rochdale.
The 25-year-old, who was already sporting a head bandage following a collision with Rochdale striker Stephen Humphrys, left the pitch clutching his hamstring.
When asked about Ekpiteta’s injury straight after last night’s game, Critchley said: “I’ve not spoken to the physio yet or Marvin, but it looks like it’s his hamstring which will be a blow.
“Fingers crossed we get some good news on that because he’s been outstanding for us this season. That would certainly put a dampener on the three points.”
Ekpiteta, Blackpool’s latest victim of hamstring trouble, is now likely to be missing for Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth.
With fellow centre-back Dan Ballard a surprise absence from Blackpool’s squad last night and Daniel Gretarsson already sidelined by injury, that could leave the Seasiders short in that area of the pitch.
But Critchley played down speculation that Ballard had picked up a niggle, revealing the Arsenal loanee was simply left out for tactical reasons.
“Dan is fine,” Pool’s head coach said.
“We wanted to go with more attacking options on the bench knowing Hubby (James Husband) could go inside and play centre-half if need be, which was needed.
“I thought he was excellent when he went there and Garbs (Luke Garbutt) was excellent when he came on at left-back.
“Turts (Ollie Turton) can play at centre-half as well, so that was just a tactical reason.”
The Seasiders were also left sweating on Tuesday night when goalkeeper Chris Maxwell required medical attention.
Pool’s skipper took a knock to his right hand after clearing the ball away from his six-yard box, but was able to play on for the remainder of the game.
“Maxi is fine,” Critchley said. “He had to deal with quite a lot of set-pieces in and around his six-yard box, especially in the second-half.
“He dealt with them really well, but one of their lads has caught him on the finger as he’s trying to clear the ball or pick it up.
Blackpool travel to Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon, looking to complete a league double over Pompey for the first time since 1970.
The Seasiders secured all three points in the reverse fixture back in December, thanks to Keshi Anderson’s effort, and will be in optimistic form heading down to Hampshire this weekend, coming into the game on the back of Tuesday night’s victory over Rochdale.
Neil Critchley’s side are playing catch-up on league fixtures, having played just 25 matches so far in League One, with games coming thick and fast between now and the end of the season. The side lie in 14th place in the league table – eight points off the play-offs.
Portsmouth, meanwhile, will be without manager Kenny Jackett on Saturday, with the 59-year-old set to undergo arm surgery, and will therefore miss the match at Fratton Park.
Pompey come into Saturday’s game having suffered defeat in their last outing – a 3-1 loss at manager-less Bristol Rovers. Despite the odd defeat along the way, Portsmouth have been in and around the play-offs all season to date, and come into Saturday’s match in fourth position in the league table – four points within the play-off places and five off of first placed Lincoln City.
Marvin Ekpiteta has been ruled out following the injury he picked up on Tuesday evening. Keshi Anderson and CJ Hamilton are still unavailable.
Alex Bass and Michael Jacobs are likely to miss out for the hosts.
Last Time We Met:
Keshi Anderson’s strike was the difference at Bloomfield Road in December in the 1-0 win.
Blackpool secured victory in the last visit to Fratton Park, thanks to another 1-0 victory courtesy of Chris Long’s strike in January 2019.
The Key Player: John Marquis
Now in the prime of his career, 28-year-old John Marquis has been the key component to Portsmouth’s forward line so far this season, scoring 14 goals in all competitions.
Marquis signed for Pompey in 2019 for an undisclosed fee from Doncaster Rover, where he won the Golden Boot for his efforts in helping Donny on their way to the League Two title that same year.
The striker was well-travelled before his permanent move to Doncaster in 2016, representing the likes of Staines Town, Torquay United and Gillingham on loan before a permanent move to the Keepmoat Stadium in 2016.
“We had to play very well to win the game against Portsmouth at our place earlier in the season, and we were deserved winners on the night. Away from home, it is a different proposition and they lost in the week, so they’ll be looking to bounce back. It should be a really exciting game.”
Watch The Match Live:
The game at Fratton Park is available to watch live on iFollow.
Supporters can purchase a match pass for the game for £10, here.
Kick off is 3pm.
Learning to read clusters is not something your eyes do naturally. It takes constant practice.