Pool boss can bank on Rivers

Neil McDonald

Neil McDonald

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Neil McDonald is backing winger Jarrett Rivers to make a big impact at Blackpool.

The winger has stepped up into professional football for the first time after signing from non-league side Blyth Spartans at the end of last season.

On first impressions I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen

Neil McDonald

It’s quite a change for the 21-year-old, who worked in his mother’s newsagent’s shop while playing part-time last season.

But Pool manager McDonald feels Rivers can cope with the rise in level, saying: “It’s the first time Jarrett has played professionally and there’s a big difference.

“It’s tough going from training twice a week to every day, so it will take some getting used to for him.

“He’s handled himself really well and is a popular member of the squad.

“On first impressions I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen.”

Rivers is fresh from a successful season at Blyth, where he scored a late winner in the FA Cup second- round victory at Hartlepool United and was named Evo-Stik League Young Player of the Year.

And it was that success which prompted then Pool manager Lee Clark to take a punt on such a little-known player.

McDonald added: “If we teach him the right way to play and get him on the ball, then he could be a real talent.

“He’s a danger on the ball now, but we have to teach him his roles and responsibilities when we haven’t got possession. If he can put those things together, then he’ll have a chance.”

Blackpool head off to Scotland this weekend for a week-long training camp involving some serious fitness work.

They will face Ross County behind closed doors on Wednesday before meeting St Johnstone on Saturday.

And McDonald is pleased with his squad’s progress so far.

He added: “We are making good progress and I’m happy with how everyone has responded so far.

“There are a lot of new players and obviously a new manager, so the most pleasing thing is how quickly everyone has gelled together.

“There’s a real hard-working mentality already throughout the squad and they are all willing to improve. For a manager that’s really pleasing.

“If we can add a few more (players) in terms of quality, then I’ll be delighted.”