We don’t fear the Hat­ters, says Neil

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO PLAY-OFF PREVIEW - By James An­drew

BLACK­POOL didn’t man­age to take a point off Lu­ton Town or score against them in the reg­u­lar sea­son – but ex­pe­ri­enced mid­fielder Neil Danns isn’t quak­ing in his boots.

The Hat­ters beat Black­pool 1-0 and 2-0 and fin­ished fourth in the ta­ble, while the Seasiders came sev­enth.

Ex-Crys­tal Palace and Bolton mid­fielder Danns, who net­ted the opener as Black­pool booked their play-off place with a 3-1 win against rel­e­gated Leyton Ori­ent last week, said: “We’re un­der no il­lu­sions it’s go­ing to be a tough game. They fin­ished fourth for a rea­son.

“But we don’t fear any team in this league, as you’ve seen with some of the re­sults we’ve had against the likes of Ply­mouth, Don­caster and Carlisle, so we’ll be go­ing into the two games be­liev­ing we can win.

“I’m sure they will be do­ing the same be­cause both teams are here on merit. It’s one where we’ve just got to go toe to toe.”

Lu­ton are favourites but Danns says Black­pool can spoil their party and re­turn to League One at the first time of ask­ing.

“Our goal isn’t to get to Wem­b­ley. Our goal is to get up,” said the 34year-old. “To do that we know we’ve got to beat teams who de­serve to be in the play-offs.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if we play them now or in the fi­nal be­cause, if you’re look­ing for an easy tie, I think you’ve got the wrong at­ti­tude.

“There are no easy ties, and for us it’s not just about get­ting to Wem­b­ley. There’s no point get­ting to Wem­b­ley and fail­ing. In that re­spect, we didn’t re­ally care who we played.”

Danns says Black­pool will treat the play-off games just like a nor­mal league game.

He added: “The boys will all be pre­par­ing prop­erly, so it’s no dif­fer­ent to any other week for us. We’ll train the way we nor­mally do and, hope­fully, that will stand us in good stead.”

If Black­pool can win a place in the third tier, a lot of the credit will go to man­ager Gary Bowyer.

Prob­lems on and off the pitch saw the Tan­ger­ines drop from the Pre­mier League to League Two in just six years. But, un­der Bowyer, things have im­proved on the pitch and he be­lieves there is rea­son for op­ti­mism around Bloom­field Road.

He said: “When we first took over, it was about re­build­ing the club, try­ing to get good peo­ple in, work­ing with them and get­ting smiles on peo­ple’s faces again. We’ve man­aged to do that so far.

“But now we’re in the play-offs we’ve got to give it a right good go, com­mit to the work we need to do and see where it takes us.”

For­mer Black­burn boss Bowyer ar­rived in June and set about as­sem­bling a squad pre­pared to fight for each other and the club.

And, in a very tight fin­ish to the reg­u­lar sea­son, Black­pool squeezed into the play­off mix.

Bowyer says he is not sur­prised by the club mak­ing the play-offs.

“The play­ers have been com­mit­ted and pre­pared to do the work to im­prove,” he said. “Now they’ve got the op­por­tu­nity to keep on im­prov­ing.”

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