Pool made to wait for Big Mac

Gary MacKenzie

Gary MacKenzie

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Blackpool are still waiting on Gary MacKenzie’s response to their contract offer, though his club MK Dons sound resigned to losing the defender.

Talks have continued with the 27-year-old over personal terms after Pool agreed a transfer fee with the League One club.

Paul Ince had hoped to finalise the deal last week but Dons manager Karl Robinson says his Pool counterpart is determined to get his man.

Robinson, who was himself linked with the Pool manager’s post follwing Michael Appleton’s exit in January, said: “I understand Paul’s determination to get him as he’s a top centre-half who is well equipped for the Championship and maybe even one up.

“Myself and the chairman want to keep him here, but you have to be respectful and you can’t stop a player progressing with his career.

“I think he would be missed, but like everybody you have your time in life where you have to move on and maybe it might be his.

“Gary’s only got 12 months left on his contract, so we will see how it materialises.

“He’s a great scoop for whoever gets him, but if things don’t materialise he’s more than happy to stay in Milton Keynes,” added Robinson, after MacKenzie reported in for training with the rest of the Dons squad this week.

The Scot proved a big hit on loan at Bloomfield Road in the final two months of last season.

And with Alex Baptiste bound for Bolton, Kirk Broadfoot failing to respond to the club’s contract offer and Ian Evatt released, Ince is anxious to snap up a reliable central defender.

The manager, who spent the first part of the week in Turkey on a pro-licence coaching course, has now linked up with the Pool squad at their training camp in Portugal.

Yoga and Pilates have been on the agenda, with Ince determined to increase fitness and reduce injuries in 2013-14.

And nobody is more anxious to impress this week than striker Nathan Eccleston, who said: “It’s a massive pre-season for me and a big season ahead.”

The 22-year-old had a disappointing first Pool campaign after his move from Liverpool last summer, making only seven Seasiders appearances and scoring his only goal in the January defeat at Charlton.

Eccleston said: “A lot of the Blackpool coaching staff, media and fans are still waiting to see me play.

“The lack of striking options we have at the minute is an opportunity for me to go out there and stake a claim.

“If I want to be that number one striker or winger, then I guess that it is there for the taking.”