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Neil Critchley claims Blackpool's Dujon Sterling is in race against time to face Preston tonight

Blackpool could be without right back Dujon Sterling as they prepare to face Preston North End at Deepdale tonight.

Preston will be welcoming – in the weakest sense of the word – Blackpool to Deepdale this evening as the two Lancashire rivals meet again.

Blackpool won the first meeting 2-0 earlier this season as Preston turned in a truly abysmal performance on the Fylde coast.

North End simply must do better tonight, but neither side is particularly in fine form right now.

Blackpool were hammered 4-1 by Nottingham Forest on Saturday whilst Preston haven’t scored in three games, losing the last two.

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Boss Neil Critchley knows he has the chance to pull off a double over Preston this season, but he may have to do it without Sterling.

The Chelsea loanee has made 25 appearances for Blackpool this season, featuring at right back and even left back under Critchley.

Sterling played the full 90 minutes against Forest over the weekend but is now in danger of missing tonight’s trip to Preston.

Critchley has told the Blackpool Gazette that Sterling has picked up an ankle injury and whilst it was iced, it’s still painful for him.

Critchley noted that the ‘brilliant’ Sterling is desperate to play and Blackpool will give him until the very last minute to prove his fitness.

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“It’s indifferent news if I’m honest,” said Critchley. “He went over on his ankle, so it’s sore. He’s iced it and we’re going to make the decision as late as possible. He’s desperate to play obviously and he’s been a brilliant performer for us, so we’ll give him as much time as possible,” he added.

If Sterling misses out, that may mean a start for Jordan Gabriel at right back despite more than a month without action.

Gabriel is only just back from injury himself but may be thrust into the spotlight with Sterling in a race against time to be fit.

That would certainly be a boost for Preston as Sterling has enjoyed a fine season at Blackpool, with North End needing every little advantage they can get.

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