Gazette opinion: Blackpool still searching for that game-changing summer signing

With Blackpool due to return for pre-season training on Wednesday, the Seasiders find themselves in the unfamiliar position of already being able to name two starting line-ups.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 2:51 pm
Curtis Tilt and Marc Bola have been linked with moves away

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Four acquisitions have so far been unveiled, leaving Pool with a squad of 22 plus the four youth-teamers who have signed their first pro deals.

Commanding defender Ryan Edwards will take the centre back slot vacated by Ben Heneghan, while Jamie Devitt and Ben Tollitt should bring some much-needed creativity to Pool’s midfield.

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Adi Yussuf, who will be making the jump up from non-league, won’t solve the Seasiders’ scoring problems on his own but he should be able to help make up the shortfall.

The striker was the standout performer in Pool’s two FA Cup ties against Solihull Moors last season, proving a constant menace in the original clash before bagging a brace in the replay at Bloomfield Road.

Solihull aside his CV doesn’t make for amazing reading, but he now appears to have addressed one or two fitness issues and now feels ready for full-time football in the third tier.

I wouldn’t say Blackpool are in dire need of a marquee signing, although a deal for free agent Charlie Adam would surely see season ticket sales rocket.

But Terry McPhillips still needs to bring in a striker, if not two. I gather that’s where the club’s sole focus lies right now - acquiring a number nine who can be relied on for goals on a regular basis. It’s imperative they get this one right.

Bradford City’s Eoin Doyle has been rumoured, although he would command a fee as he remains under contract. He’ll be on a sizeable wage, too, which is probably why Gary Bowyer is looking to offload him.

The former PNE man is a reliable goalscorer at League One level but does he offer enough out of possession? Bradford fans weren’t exactly enamoured with him as they crashed out of the third tier last season.

And at 31, is he worth the risk of a transfer fee?

It’s important to remember the club still has five loan slots available to them, a source of signings that have proven crucial in recent seasons.

The aforementioned Heneghan was a success story from Sheffield United last term, while Sean Longstaff, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Joe Lumley all made important contributions the previous campaign.

Normally those types of signings don’t occur until the back end of the transfer window, when the up-and-coming youngsters at Premier League and Championship level become available, so patience is key.

Two of the club’s key assets in Curtis Tilt and Marc Bola continue to be linked with moves away, while Jimmy Ryan looks increasingly unlikely to re-sign.

Portsmouth are the main suitors for Tilt. Their interest is genuine and they’ve got the money from their £5m sale of Matt Clarke to Brighton, but such a move would require moving south to a club that compete in the same division.

Bola, meanwhile, is being monitored by Luton Town who will want the left back to fill the shoes of James Justin, who looks destined to make a big money move to the Premier League - with Leicester City his likely destination.

As a Londoner I’m sure such a move to the Championship newcomers would come with its attractions, but having spoken to him on a number of occasions last season the 21-year-old appeared very much at ease with life at Bloomfield Road.

Simon Sadler, not even two weeks into his tenure, won’t want to sell the club’s best players and I wouldn’t be surprised to see fresh contracts tabled for the pair, who are both entering the final year of their deals.

More should become clearer in the coming days and weeks, with the club’s new owner due to lay out his plans at the beginning of July.