City’s hopes of avoiding relegation were boosted last Saturday with a morale-boosting 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Carlisle in which new loanee Luke Harris impressed on debut. With Ryan Trevitt’s loan spell now officially over following the injury he picked up at Cambridge before Christmas, Gary Caldwell will be looking to Harris to take over from where Trevitt left off in terms of providing a creative spark. Elsewhere Caldwell remains hopeful of clinching further signings, while he has also been boosted by a more positive looking treatment table with the likes of Vincent Harper, Jack Fitzwater and Caleb Watts back in training and hopeful of making the matchday squad before long. Yanic Wildschut also returned to the bench against Carlisle after limping off against Wycombe on Boxing Day.
Expected to be amongst the front-runners for an immediate return to the Championship under returning boss Neil Critchley, Blackpool have been bubbling under and go into Saturday’s fixture in 8th place in the table. There have been recent distractions in the cups causing a hectic fixture list that was added to last weekend when Blackpool secured a 2-2 draw away to Premier League opposition in Nottingham Forest, meaning that in addition to their EFL Trophy tie that took place on Wednesday (a victory over Burton) they now have their replay next Wednesday. With that in mind Critchley may be more pressed to make changes to his line-up to keep things fresh. Key to their success has been the loan signing of Jordan Rhodes, the Huddersfield striker has now extended his loan to the end of the season that has so far seen him score 15 goals. Shayne Lavery returned to the side on Wednesday after an absence of two months and will also hope to feature to provide yet more firepower.
The reverse fixture took place right near the start of the season and finished 0-0. City’s last visit to Bloomfield Road was back on the opening day of Blackpool’s solitary League Two season in 2016/17 that would end with them beating City at Wembley in the playoff final. A virtually deserted stadium (due to Blackpool supporters’ ongoing boycott of the stadium in protest at the club’s ownership) saw the hosts win 2-0 through Kyle Vassell and a Troy Brown own goal. Blackpool have the league head to head lead with seven wins to City’s four, six matches finishing level.
The match officials for this game will be:-
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin and Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official: Martin Coy
Thomas Bramall has only taken charge of a number of Exeter games, the last being away at Macclesfield in February 2020 when City won 3-2.