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Preview: Nottingham Forest vs. Blackpool

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Championship clash between Nottingham Forest and troubled Blackpool as the new season gets underway.

Blackpool go into their 2014-15 Championship season opener against Nottingham Forest on Saturday as a club in turmoil.

A shambolic campaign last term saw them plummet down the table courtesy of a club-record run of 18 matches without a win in all competitions, lasting more than three months.

Paul Ince came and went as manager, while Barry Ferguson struggled to steady the ship, eventually doing just enough to maintain their Championship status for another season at least.

Belgian manager Jose Riga is the man tasked with ensuring that things go a little more smoothly this time around, although the signs are already pointing to another tough campaign.

A mass exodus of players at the end of last season has left the Tangerines with a threadbare squad, so much so that they only had 11 signed players at the start of the week and only managed to recruit a goalkeeper on Tuesday.

A number of other new faces have come in, although the desperate nature of Blackpool's recruitment policy is sure to impact on the quality of players at their disposal.

However, while the second half of the season was undeniably dreadful at Bloomfield Road, it is worth remembering that they made a strong start to the campaign and even looked like playoff contenders at one point.

It would be a surprise if they were to repeat that feat this time around, but Riga already has experience of battling it out at the wrong end of the table having saved Charlton Athletic from relegation last season.

It remains to be seen what sort of shape the squad are in after a number of the club's pre-season friendlies were cancelled due to the lack of players, while those who have come in will need to gel quickly.

It is hard to imagine a worse build-up to a season, and Blackpool's plight may at least make Nottingham Forest fans feel a little better about their own situation.

Confusion has reigned over the City Ground this week, with new manager and club legend Stuart Pearce expressing his displeasure at the sales of Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle United.

Both players are expected to be loaned back to Forest, however, so Pearce will have them at his disposal this season.

They will join a host of other new signings, including Michael Mancienne, Michail Antonio and Britt Assombalonga, the latter of whom joined for more than £5m earlier this week.

Despite the unrest around the squad, Forest will go into the campaign amongst the favourites for automatic promotion, with a buzz surrounding Pearce's place at the helm.

A win over relegation candidates Blackpool is expected, but defeat could make a tense situation between the manager and owners even worse, despite it being so early in the season.

Recent form

Nottm Forest: WWLLWW

Blackpool: LDWLWL

Possible starting lineups

Nottm Forest: Darlow; Hunt, Mancienne, Hobbs, Fox; Vaughan; Burke, Osborn, Reid, Paterson; Fryatt

Blackpool: Lewis; McMahon, Clarke, Mackenzie, Dunne; Lundstram, Perkins, Mellis, Cywka; Delfouneso, Grant

Sports Mole says: 2-0

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Nottingham Forest owner Fawaz Al Hasawi looks on during the npower Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Leicester City at City Ground on May 4, 2013
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