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Christmas presents opportunity for Blackpool
Swansea City are the visitors to Bloomfield Road this Saturday as the Seasiders’ Christmas period gets under way and the second half of the league programme begins.
Last Christmas was a season of prosperity for Simon Grayson’s men, who took ten points from four matches.
The previous season it was thirteen points from five games in December, suggesting that Grayson has the knack of keeping his players focussed in the run up to Christmas.
A similar run of form this time round would build a very strong platform going into 2009.
Swansea have surprised a few people with some buoyant displays since their promotion last season.
They sit in 11th place and are four points better off than Blackpool after drawing their last five matches.
Striker Jason Scotland and Spanish midfielder Jordi Gomez have eight goals apiece for the Swans, and both will need to be tightly marshalled.
Grayson will have Ian Evatt back but Rob Edwards must be doubtful with the ankle injury sustained last weekend.
If he doesn’t make it the manager will choose between Shaun Barker and Alex Baptiste as his partner in central defence.
Baptiste started at Forest on Saturday in Evatt’s absence and seems favourite to get the nod again.
There is a Boxing Day visit to Sheffield Wednesday and then Wolves come to Bloomfield Road on the following Monday evening, a game which under 19s can attend free of charge with a paying adult.
The Seasiders’ 0-0 draw at Nottingham Forest on Saturday marked the half way point of the league season and the mid-term report makes pretty good reading.
At the same stage last season they were just two points above the relegation zone. This time around, there is a 10-point cushion.
They have taken 28 points from the first 23 fixtures, and are half way to the objective of sticking around for another year and cashing in on the lucrative new TV deal that will see Championship clubs earn around £3m next season from TV revenue alone.
Several long term absentees are nearing fitness. Stephen Crainey, Stephen McPhee, Jermaine Wright and Daniel Nardiello are all close to returning to action.