Back to work for Pool

Neil McDonald
Neil McDonald
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Blackpool return to training this morning with new boss Neil McDonald still facing a difficult challenge to prepare his team for the new season.

Pool had been hoping to expand their squad last week, with their first pre-season friendly scheduled for a week on Saturday, when McDonald’s men face Trevor Sinclair’s Lancaster City.

But McDonald was able to add just one new face to his squad, young Scottish midfielder John Herron arriving after his release by Celtic.

He joins goalkeepers Colin Doyle and Kyle Letheren, midfielder Brad Potts and defender Clark Robertson as the new boys who, like McDonald, will be working at Squires Gate for the first time today.

Pool, on paper, have 19 first team players ready to report for duty.

But it remains to be seen whether AWOL striker Nile Ranger, the only experienced forward on Blackpool’s books, will show.

He has been absent since November but Blackpool have activated a one-year extension clause on his contract.

Ranger essentially has the choice of playing for Blackpool or not playing at all, McDonald having opened the door for the former Newcastle bad-boy to return.

The striker isn’t the only concern for Blackpool’s manager as his players report for duty.

Rising stars Dom Telford and Mark Waddington are yet to put pen to paper on new contracts with Blackpool.

Both were at St George’s Park to begin their pre-season work early last week, doing weight and altitude training. But the pair have been heavily linked with a move to Premier League Stoke City.

Jose Miguel Cubero has expressed his desire to leave Blackpool, while Andrea Orlandi is also understood to want away.

Under the worst case scenario, Pool could find themselves with just 14 signed-up players in training this week, including a number who have never played in the Football League.

The Pool boss knows he’s light on bodies. Little has changed since he told reporters a fortnight ago: “We’ve got a few irons in the fire and are trying to get answers. We still need to strengthen and we still need plenty of players.”

Those returning to Squires Gate should find facilities improved, McDonald having ordered work on the showers and changing facilities at the training ground.

Those repairs are understood to have been completed before the weekend.