There have been some significant meetings between these two Lancashire clubs in the past few seasons. The one that stands out the most in my mind is the final day of the 2012-2013 season. Bolton Wanderers needed a win to qualify for the playoffs and make sure that their presence in the Championship was a 1-year blip. The Reebok was sold-out and hopes were high. Bolton had everything o play for, while Blackpool were mired in mid-table mediocrity. Then the lineups were released.
Manager Dougie Freedman chose to give young winger Rob Hall, on loan from West Ham United at the time, his full debut. Hall was ineffective, as you might expect from a 19-year-old making his debut in such a critical match. Blackpool FC scored two goals in the first 35 minutes, and Freedman pulled Hall off to make way for Marvin Sordell. Hard as it is to believe now, Sordell's inclusion made a huge difference. Wanderers went on the attack and scored two goals in 15 minutes, leaving things all level at half-time. But that was all Freedman's men could muster, and they missed the playoffs.
Freedman took a lot of heat for his tactics in that match, and you could argue that was the beginning of the end for Dougie. At any rate, Neil Lennon is in now, Bolton wanderers are in good form, and Blackpool are propping up the table, ten points behind Bolton and (coincidentally) ten points from safety.
There is a lot of team news ahead of this one. Most notably, Blackpool have just signed former Bolton midfielder Chris Eagles. Eagles scored the first of the two goals that leveled that match two years ago, before a falling out with Freedman forced him to move on. He is likely to make his debut at Bloomfield Road this weekend, as Blackpooll have several players missing through injury.
Bolton have just received the troubling (though predictable) news that Mark Davies will be sidelined for at least four months with a (another) severe knee injury. We know that Marc Tierney and Stu Holden are still missing. David Wheater has played 90 minutes for the developmental squad this week and is back in contention. Darren Pratley is back from suspension. Most interestingly, Adam Bogdan may be available after his surprise call-up for Hungary. Will Neil Lennon make a change?
That is just one of many questions that Neil will have to answer this Saturday. And the pressure is on, because anything short to three points against a horrible side will be seen as failure.