Blackpool's Chelsea loanee is offering stiff competition at full-back
Dujon Sterling has made an excellent start to his Blackpool career, giving the club genuine competition at right-back.
That’s the verdict of head coach Neil Critchley after the Chelsea loanee’s impressive first start in the Seasiders’ win at Middlesbrough a week ago.
Having started the second tier campaign without a specialist right-back, Blackpool signed two on transfer deadline day, when last season’s loan hero Jordan Gabriel, was joined by Sterling.
Londoner Sterling, who turns 22 next month, made the most of his first start, having made his debut off the bench in Blackpool’s 3-0 home defeat by Huddersfield Town the previous midweek.
First impressions could hardly have been more positive as the head coach said.
Critchley admitted: “Dujon was excellent at right-back. He’d played in a couple of behind-closed-doors games but had not had many minutes in pre-season.
“He was struggling with cramp but wanted to stay on. We knew they would bring big men forward but we wanted Dujon to try to see it out and he did that.
“He competed very well. He got forward and put a lovely cross in for Tyreece John-Jules early in the second half.
“He was terrific playing against a good player in Onel Hernandez, who wriggled away from him very early on in the game but Dujon learned very quickly.
“I told Dujon he wasn’t going to beat him for pace, so he just had to stay on his feet.
“If he wants to twist and turn away from you, just be patient. I thought he was fantastic.”
Gabriel had started the previous two games, competition which Critchley wants to see across his squad.
He added: “We have competition there, with Jordan as well, and that is really pleasing.
“We have competition right across the squad, which is really healthy because you want players to be pushing each other in training as well as in the matches.”
Critchley also believes Blackpool are now starting to tighten up defensively, having had two clean sheets in their last three games.
He added: “Apart from the game against Huddersfield, who scored two fantastic goals and a set piece in the space of 15 minutes, we have been looking less likely to concede and tighter as a team.
“That’s something we prided ourselves on last season.”
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