Blackpool play host to Bolton on Saturday, with three points paramount if they are to avoid making the brief round trip back to the Championship.Ian Holloway’s team were a joy to watch before Christmas, led by the inventive play of former Rangers man Charlie Adam in midfield, and they posted wins against Newcastle, Liverpool, West Brom, Stoke and Sunderland.
But the rigours of a long campaign look to be catching up with Holloway’s men and since the New Year they have claimed a paltry 10 points from a possible 57.
Blackpool are without a win in their last nine league games, and their 1-1 draw at Tottenham last weekend sees them in the dreaded bottom three, one point short of Wolves who are 17th, and three behind Birmingham and Blackburn.
Saturday’s tussle with Bolton could be their best chance to claim three points, with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United a week later.
In Holloway’s favour will be the fact that Bolton have nothing left to play for in 2010-11.
Owen Coyle’s side are sitting comfortably in mid-table, but are too far adrift of Spurs and Liverpool to be pressing for a Europa League berth.
Bolton’s league form has hit a slump of late, and since back-to-back home wins against West Ham and Arsenal, they have lost their last three on the trot against Fulham, Blackburn and Sunderland.
In their only other meeting this season, Blackpool squandered a 2-0 lead at Reebok Stadium – courtesy of goals from Ian Evatt and Luke Varney – and Bolton scrambled a point with late strikes from Martin Petrov and Mark Davies.
Holloway has the least of the injury worries, with Australian left-back David Carney the only first-team regular out as he continues to recover from a shoulder issue.
Bolton have problems of their own, with defender Sam Ricketts and midfielder Stuart Holden ruled out with respective calf and knee problems.