MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers v Blackpool

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers entertain Blackpool this weekend for the first competitive fixture of the New Year.

The Gas will be hoping to put 2020 behind them as quickly as possible after a torrid year that saw them fall from play-off chasers to relegation fighters under former manager Ben Garner.

Rovers have performed better under Paul Tisdale, who has only been in charge for six league matches due to the amount of postponements Rovers have faced in the past 6 weeks.

Missed league games due to a coronavirus outbreak have seen Rovers drop into the relegation zone but fans will remain optimistic with the January window opening and the need to bolster the depleted side and manager Tisdale has confirmed that any business could be done sooner rather than later.

“We could do, we could get something done,” Tisdale told BristolLive.

“I would prefer to get things done soon, but there has to be three or four parties all happy for particular deal to go through.

“It’s not just what I want, it’s with the player coming in or going out, he’s got to be happy, and the club he’s coming from or going to has to be happy. There are also agents and other people involved in the process.

“There’s so many people that need to be happy with a move or a bit of business that it’s often a difficult process and as we all know everyone’s tried to improve their situation and go to the highest possible level they could, and we all tend to wait for the best opportunity we can.”

Rovers will be without Anssi Jaakkola for the game as he continues his recovery from injury. Zain Westbrooke and Erhun Oztumer are both in contention for a return after their time out due to positive Covid tests. Josh Grant could also return to the side after missing the loss at MK Dons.

Blackpool go into the game having had a difficult Christmas period. The Seasiders drew away at Accrington the week before Christmas, their Boxing Day match with Rochdale was then postponed due to Covid before they lost away at struggling Shrewsbury a few days later.

The Tangerines had gone through a purple patch prior to that though, winning six league games out of eight and boss Neil Critchley will be hoping to emulate that this coming month in order to maintain a play off push.

Blackpool fans quickly took to Twitter following the release of former striker Armand Gnanduillet from Turkish side Altay hoping to fuel a return to the North West for the Frenchman but boss Critchley has quashed any chances of a return.

“It’s not worked out for Armand which is a shame for him, but I don’t know why it hasn’t worked out,” Critchley told the Blackpool Gazette.

“I don’t know what his thoughts or his plans are for the future.

“Armand wanted to leave in the summer and we wished him all the best, but it’s not worked out for him at the moment, so hopefully he can find somewhere that can make him happy and somewhere where he can play his football for the second half of the season.”

When asked if Blackpool would be interested in bringing him back, Critchley added: “No, I don’t think so. Armand wanted to leave, he was out of contract, so I think that ship has sailed now.”

Critchley will be without Chris Maxwell and Matty Virtue as well as winger CJ Hamilton, who is facing at least two or three weeks out with a hamstring injury. Jerry Yates and Bez Lubala are in contention to return to the starting XI.

Lineup Predictions

Score Predictions:

Harley: The Gas 0-2 Blackpool

Max and Mets: The Gas 1-1 Blackpool

Simon: The Gas 1-2 Blackpool