Armfield calls for senior signings

Jimmy Armfield
Jimmy Armfield
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Neil McDonald has just five days to go on a massive signing spree before his Blackpool squad return to training – and that concerns Seasiders great Jimmy Armfield.

McDonald made it clear that he wants the core of his squad in place for the start of pre-season training next Monday.

The new Pool boss has made four signings in his three weeks at the helm, including two goalkeepers, though the new arrivals have dried up over the past week.

On paper Pool have 17 senior players, though that figure includes want-away stars, youth graduates yet to agree professional terms and other young players with little or no Football League experience.

Pool have failed since the start of the year to convince teenagers Dom Telford and Mark Waddington to sign contracts and both continue to be linked with Premier League Stoke City.

The pair were in the Staffordshire area last week to make an early start to training.

They spent time at the FA’s St George’s Park National Football Centre, where they underwent essential fitness work.

Both posted pictures to social media of themsleves working in Blackpool kits – raising hopes that the Seasiders may cling on to these key assets.

Even so, McDonald will need to step up his recruitment drive massively to have a balanced team available for the first pre-season game away to Trevor Sinclair’s Lancaster City on July 11.

And the message from Armfield is clear. He told The Gazette: “They have to accept where they are. The priority now is to sign players.

“They are in a position where they simply don’t have the number, with pre-season weeks if not days away. You need senior players.

“Blackpool are in a better position than they were this time last year.

“They can at least put a team on the field but they have nowhere near what they need.”

McDonald will be keen to avoid the embarrassment suffered by Jose Riga last summer, when he arrived for a friendly at Penrith with seven triallists in an 18-man squad.

He could find himself short of senior players, with Jose Cubero and Andrea Orlandi seeking new clubs and Nile Ranger, the only out and out striker on the books, AWOL from Bloomfield Road since November.

While his transfer business may be a work in progress, McDonald has moved to address one major concern at Blackpool – the state of the club’s training facilities.

He has made urgent repairs at Squires Gate a priority ahead of the new campaign.

Works are set to be completed this week on the changing rooms and showers at the complex, which has come in for heavy criticism from numerous former players and managers.

Former Blackpool and England winger Sinclair described the training ground as a “disgrace” and former boss Ian Holloway branded it a “hellhole”.