Blackpool youngster is in head coach's thoughts

Neil Critchley hasn’t ruled out handing an opportunity to Blackpool’s youth team hotshot Brad Holmes in the coming weeks.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 4:45 pm

The striker was an unused substitute on Tuesday night as the Seasiders played out a 1-1 draw with Burton Albion.

The 18-year-old, who signed professional terms during the summer, has scored 19 goals in 20 games for the youth team this season.

With Gary Madine still sidelined through a groin injury, there’s every chance Holmes – who played for Poulton Youth as a youngster – could be handed his first team debut between now and the end of the season.

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Blackpool youngster Brad Holmes
Blackpool youngster Brad Holmes

“It’s fully deserved,” Critchley said of his involvement on Tuesday night.

“He’s been fantastic this season for the youth team and scored a lot of goals. That’s great credit to the academy staff.

“We were looking at the options that we’ve got and Brad, if you need a goal, then he could be the man.

“We didn’t feel it was quite right to bring him on against Burton on Tuesday, but that’s not to say in the next few games coming up, he might not get an appearance at some point.”

Holmes isn’t the first academy product to be involved with the first team this season.

Goalkeeper Jack Sims had been a regular on the bench up until the arrival of Stuart Moore on a short-term deal at the end of February.

Rob Apter featured off the bench in the EFL Trophy game against Leeds United’s Under-21s and the 5-0 league thrashing of Wigan Athletic, while Nathan Shaw was handed his league debut as a substitute during the recent league win against Charlton Athletic.

Luke Mariette was also an unused substitute during Blackpool’s FA Cup fourth round defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Seasiders recently set out their vision to see five academy products reach the first-team squad by 2025.

The club also wants its youth team to become the best category three academy in the country. before eventually progressing towards category two.

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