Blackpool’s only striker given target as search goes on

Neil McDonald: Striker hunt
Neil McDonald: Striker hunt
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Neil McDonald has set new boy Mark Cullen a target – to fire at least 20 goals this season.

And the Blackpool boss will be hoping the former Luton frontman comes up with the goods – as he is the only senior striker currently in training at Bloomfield Road.

Missing man Nile Ranger has promised to return within a couple of weeks, but his re-emergence would still leave Pool desperately short of options in attack.

Pool have again struggled in the transfer market this summer, with only 14 professionals so far signed up and the first pre-season friendly at Lancaster this Saturday.

While McDonald is putting on a brave face, he has stated that six to eight more players are needed ahead of the League One kick-off at Colchester on August 8 and it is believed that concerns are growing within the club.

With chairman Karl Oyston’s six-week ban from football due to start on Wednesday, McDonald will be desperate to add to his squad, with former Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith remaining on the radar.

McDonald does have high hopes for Cullen, stating: “I’m very confident he’ll score goals. He’s scored goals over the last two seasons (22 in 77 appearances for Luton),” the manager said.

“I watched him a couple of times last season myself, when I was at West Ham, and I’ve spoken in-depth with John Still (Luton boss), who didn’t really want to lose him.

“He’s a bubbly character and he’s taken to the group well.

“He’s an inter-link player, who can go in behind and has said he will even play wide if he needs to.

“We want him to score goals and he’s already come in and said – without putting pressure on him – that he’d love to score 10 goals before Christmas and 10 goals after. We’ll set a higher target for him than that, I’m sure.”

Pool’s players are back in training today after a weekend off to recuperate following their first week of pre-season.

One former Blackpool favourite on the move is Alex Baptiste.

The 2010 promotion hero had a medical at Middlesbrough over the weekend and is expected to sign a three-year contract today.

Having spent five years at Bloomfield Road, the 29-year-old defender moved to Bolton in 2013 and has a season to run on his three-year deal there.