Blackpool's Everton loanee is tipped to shine in this weekend's play-off final

Keith Southern believes Everton loanee Ellis Simms will have a big part to play for Blackpool on Sunday.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 12:30 pm

The 40-year-old is an academy coach with the Toffees and worked with Simms earlier in his career.

Southern has kept a keen eye on Simms’ development at Bloomfield Road, which has gone from strength to strength since his arrival during the January transfer window.

The 20-year-old, who scored twice on his first league start for the Seasiders, has already reached double figures for Neil Critchley’s side despite only spending half the campaign with Pool.

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The Oldham-born forward has finished the season in fine form, scoring five times in his last four games – including a double in the first leg of Blackpool’s play-off semi-final against Oxford United.

“I can’t speak for the hierarchy at Everton, who selected Blackpool as the team for Ellis to go to,” Southern said.

“I can speak about Ellis the player and the boy I worked with for 18 months, going back two years now.

“He was outstanding, he always wanted to learn and he was very humble, a shy lad if you like, but he had a brilliant knack of scoring goals and he scored 46 goals for our youth team in his second year as a scholar. That knack never really leaves you.

“The physical differences are exactly that, they are different because he’s playing against men now, but that knack of scoring goals when you get in front of the whites of the posts and being able to put it in the back of the net, he’s transferred that brilliantly.”

Southern added: “It’s been a great loan move for everybody.

“He’s still only 20 and he’s got plenty of learning to do, I think he’d be the first to admit that because he’s got areas of his game where he needs to get better.

“That’s the beauty of these loan moves, because you grow up as a person.

“I did it myself 20 years ago when you leave the comfort of your parent club and you go into a different environment, with different people and different training facilities. It brings out the best in you – or it should do if you want to have a career in the game.

“It’s been beneficial for everybody. He’s got 10 goals in 18 starts, Neil Critchley has managed him brilliantly because he’s started him, he’s given him minutes from the bench, he’s left him out completely, so he’s had a wide variety of experiences.

“He’s really shown his quality towards the back end of the season and I think he’ll be a big player for Blackpool on Sunday.”

Simms’ goals at the Kassam Stadium in the first leg capped a memorable night for the striker, who was playing in front of fans for the first time in his professional career.

Southern added: “That’s the only downside to the move which, unfortunately, no-one can do anything about at this moment in time because of the pandemic.

“He’s missed that. I’ve swapped some texts with him during the period he’s been on loan and I said to him the only downside is the fans aren’t there, because they’re probably as good as any in the whole country at getting behind the team and being fully supportive of the players.

“He has missed that, but he had a little taste of it on Friday night in the second leg when a small portion of fans were in there. They still made a hell of a noise, mind.

“That will have whetted his appetite even more for this game on Sunday but it’s all part of the learning curve.

“Playing in front of fans is a big thing for a young player because you have to manage those nerves.

“Playing behind closed doors, when there’s nobody there, you have to be able to transfer that performance to 3pm on a Saturday in front of fans on a stage where you’re playing for points.

“That’s all part of the development but there’s no doubt in my mind he can handle that, in fact he already showed in the first leg where he was fantastic, scored two goals and rightly won the man of the match.

“He’s got a really, really bright future ahead of him.”

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