James, Kalas, Williams: Bristol City injury state of play ahead of Blackpool

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Bristol City are facing an injury crisis in defence and midfield, but a key man could beat the clock to be fit against Blackpool

Nigel Pearson says Bristol City midfielder Matty James will face a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s Championship match against Blackpool at Ashton Gate.

The City man went down following a heavy challenge from Huddersfield Town defender Matty Pearson in the Robins’ 0-0 draw against the Terriers on Tuesday night but did play on for the full 90 minutes.

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Pearson said post-match that James would be a doubt for this weekend's clash against strugglers Blackpool, and revealed in his pre-Tangerines press conference that a decision on the veteran’s fitness will be made Saturday morning, when giving an update on his squad's fitness.

“The one we picked up with Matty James, we’ll have to wait really until tomorrow to make a late call on that one,” he said. “That apart, we’re okay-ish, it’s part and parcel of Championship seasons. We’ve been unlucky in games, that’s been the problem we’ve had. Players pick up serious injuries in games and I think that is something you can never legislate for really. It’s a bit of a tough one.”

The challenge from Matty Pearson earned him a yellow card on the night, and the Robins’ boss wasn’t best pleased with the nature of the tackle.

“It was a shocking challenge. We joke about it or make jokes that we could wallpaper the office with all the excuses and poor reports we get back (from referees). The one we got from the other night was embarrassing, to be honest with you. Not just Matty, but some of our other players took some heavy challenges. It’s an impact and twist, but we’ll have to see.”

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James’ potential absence adds to an already depleted midfield, Kal Naismith remains sidelined with a calf injury, while Joe Williams’ season is finished after he suffered a hamstring injury in City’s 2-0 Severnside derby defeat to Cardiff City last weekend.

The setback is just the latest in the Scouser’s time at the club, but his manager insisted the midfielder is in good spirits. “He’s actually quite calm for him. He’s a very passionate footballer. He’s been very frustrated over a sustained period of time with injury setbacks and I think those types of experiences have put a lot of stress on him because he just wants to play.

“I think because he has been available all season and played a lot of football too, he probably knows he’s made a lot of progress now so although this is a set back for him, he knows now the sorts of habits he’s gained and the procedures now which he manages himself, he knows he’s potentially in a much better place in the longer team. It’s something which probably helped him a little bit.”

When asked whether Williams would be back for the beginning of the 2023/24 campaign, Nigel Pearson replied: “Yeah, absolutely. He’ll be okay for that.”

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The Robins’ boss has plenty of decisions to make in terms of his midfield for Saturday’s 12.30 PM kick-off, but his backline selection should be an easy one - mainly down to his lack of options.

Tomas Kalas’ injury against the Bluebirds has ruled him out until mid-April, while Rob Atkinson is likely to be absent until at least August with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Kalas had recently made a return to regular first-team action, and his manager admitted the setback has come at a difficult time for the Czech defender, given that he is one of several players playing for a new contract at the West Country side.

“That’s come at a tough time for him, just on a very personal level. He’s dealing with it in a pretty positive way and hopefully, he’ll be back in six weeks,” he said. Maybe a bit quicker, but it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.”

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