Blackpool’s pre-season got off to a slow start as only 10 professional outfield players took to the training field, four of them yet to play a Football League game.
A year after the Seasiders’ shambolic pre-season, which was widely blamed for their relegation, new manager Neil McDonald is facing a similar player crisis.
Both Jose Riga and Lee Clark slammed the club’s lack of preparation last summer, and McDonald said he hoped to have the “bulk” of his squad in place for the start of training yesterday.
Five professional outfield players joined the club’s goalkeepers for the morning session at Squires Gate.
For the day’s second session at 3pm they were joined by five more, who had spent the morning working in the gym.
Worryingly, there was no sign of midfielder Andrea Orlandi, who is involved in a contract dispute with the club.
AWOL striker Nile Ranger appeared not to have reported for training either.
McDonald had said he would “wait and see” if Ranger, whose contract has been extended for the coming season, would turn up to train for the first time since November.
The 24-year-old yesterday turned to social media to hint he was ready for the new season, posting a picture of a pair of boots on Instagram with the caption, “Raring to go #preseason”.
However, the club has remained silent on the Ranger issue, and it remains unclear whether he has made contact with the club or whether McDonald is aware of his whereabouts. His ongoing absence meant Pool did not have a single striker in training.
The Seasiders have 15 professional players on their books, though doubts surround the future of several of them.
Another hoping to leave is midfielder Jose Cubero, though the reason for his absence yesterday was international duty with Costa Rica.
Neither Mark Waddington nor Dom Telford were in attendance, further strengthening rumours they have already agreed deals away from Pool. Bright Osayi-Samuel, another youth-team product who has not agreed a professional deal with the club, did train.
There were six new faces: McDonald’s signings John Herron, Brad Potts, Clark Robertson and goalkeepers Colin Doyle and Kyle Letheran, along with winger Jarrett Rivers, who joined in early May before the manager’s arrival. Youth-teamer Myles Boney joined the senior keepers in the sessions.
McDonald is hopeful of making a couple of signings this week, with senior, experienced players now believed to be high on his wish-list.
Pool play their opening friendly on Saturday week at Lancaster City.