Blackpool welcome Middlesbrough to Bloomfield Road in the stand-out tie across the concluding batch of Round One matches of 2021-22 Carabao Cup.
The winner of this tie will advance to Round Two with the draw set to take place upon completion of Sky’s televised match at Leyton Orient.
Kenny Dougall could return for Blackpool after a knock kept him out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City.
Kevin Stewart however won’t be rushed back from an ankle injury suffered during pre-season, as Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder), Matty Virtue, Demetri Mitchell (both knee) and Gary Madine (groin) remain absent.
Middlesbrough manager, Neil Warnock will rotate his squad with Martin Payero set for his Boro debut after being named as an unused substitute in Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Fulham.
Ex Tangerines – Joe Lumley, Grant Hall, Marc Bola and Uche Ikpeazu could also feature but Sammy Ameobi is set to remain sidelined with a knee injury.
- This is the first-ever League Cup meeting between Blackpool and Middlesbrough, although the Tangerines won just one of four previous clashes in cup competitions excluding EFL Trophy (W1, L3).
- Blackpool are winless in their last five meetings against Middlesbrough’s senior team (D2, L3), with both draws finishing 1-1.
- Middlesbrough have won just two of their last five trips to Bloomfield Road (W2, L3).
- Blackpool have advanced just twice from this opening stage in the last ten seasons, with their deepest run in that period seeing them reach Round Four in 2018-19 season but lost 2-1 at Arsenal.
- Middlesbrough have lost at this stage just once in the last seven seasons – losing 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw at home to Crewe Alexandra in 2019-20 season.
Although both teams are expected to rotate their squads here, Blackpool can take heart from their fighting spirit in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bristol City because they played with discipline and clinical finishing despite often being outplayed by the Robins.
Middlesbrough meanwhile were creatively poor against Fulham and defensively messy on the flanks, yet maintained strong defensive pressure inside the box and were clinical enough to snatch a 1-1 draw but improvement is required here.
On that note, I expect to see a scrappy game between two teams who were simply outplayed at the weekend but Blackpool’s awful League Cup record might be their Achilles heel here.
Prediction: Blackpool 0-1 Middlesbrough
Result: Blackpool 3-0 Middlesbrough