How Blackpool's 25-man squad is shaping up ahead of the final days of the January transfer window

The new-fangled limitations placed on squad lists is a key component of transfer business that is often forgotten about.

By Matt Scrafton
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 10:14 am

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Supporters might think their club needs two, three or four new additions during a transfer window, but it’s never quite as simple as that and - in the age of squad restrictions - recruitment can be more puzzling than ever.

Tyreece John-Jules’ departure yesterday means Blackpool now have some much-needed wiggle room when it comes to their 25-man squad - but it's a constantly moving jigsaw.

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The Seasiders have already bolstered their camp this month with the addition of striker Jake Beesley from Rochdale.Owen Dale, meanwhile, finally had his loan spell from Crewe Alexandra turned into a permanent one, as was originally the plan.

Elsewhere, Ethan Robson has returned early from his loan spell in League One with MK Dons to help boost Blackpool’s numbers in midfield, where they’re severely lacking in numbers.

It comes after Ryan Wintle was recalled by Cardiff City, leaving Kenny Dougall as Blackpool’s only natural central midfielder who is currently considered to be 100 per cent fit, although even he is carrying an arm injury.

There is better news on the horizon though, as Kevin Stewart is now back in training and fit for selection - although he's likely to take some time to get fully back up to speed and perhaps can’t be wholly relied upon, having only made three appearances all season.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

While Callum Connolly and Reece James are predominately defenders, they can fill in higher up the field if and when required, as they’ve already done on occasions this season.

Nevertheless, Neil Critchley remains keen to bolster his options in central midfield, where he was already short on options even before Wintle’s untimely departure.

If Blackpool do want to bring in more than one player between now and January 31, it’s highly likely there will have to be further departures.

Here’s why…

Once the January window closes in 13 days’ time, the Seasiders will have 24 hours to submit their new 25-man squad list to the EFL.

Any player aged 21 or under doesn’t have to be included. However, unlike League One last season, any loan player - irrespective of age - must be formally registered.

Any changes to the list may only be made during a window, otherwise clubs must seek permission from the EFL - although this is a rule that could well be relaxed given the current disruption caused by positive Covid-19 cases within squads.

As it stands, Blackpool are likely to be almost at the max of their 25-man quota limit, giving them little room to manoeuvre.

However, further space appeared yesterday when Tyreece John-Jules returned to Arsenal after his unsuccessful loan stay at Bloomfield Road.

It’s fair to say the 20-year-old’s loan spell didn’t go to plan, with the forward’s last appearance for the club coming in mid-October.

But further gaps could also be created if players currently sidelined with injuries aren’t formally registered.

This happened during the summer when CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine were left out after undergoing surgery before the season got underway, only to be added in at a later date once they returned to full fitness.

However, while the likes of Chris Maxwell, James Husband and Keshi Anderson are all currently sidelined, they’re not expected to be long-term absentees and are unlikely to be taken out of the official 25-man squad completely.

And while Sonny Carey is a player likely to be out for the foreseeable future with a fractured metatarsal, he doesn’t count towards the quota anyway as he’s aged under 21.

The picture is further muddied with the potential return of Matty Virtue, who has been out since March with a serious ACL problem.

While the 24-year-old has only just returned to light training and will need time to complete his rehabilitation and get back up to speed, there’s every chance he could come back into consideration before the season ends - which gives Critchley another conundrum.

Grant Ward is another sidelined player to think about, although he’s thought to be behind Virtue in his recovery so is likely to be left out.

Naturally, a further gap could also open up with any other departures, such as Josh Bowler - who has been the subject of bids from Nottingham Forest - or Daniel Gretarsson, who is down the pecking order and has recently been linked with a move to Poland.

The likes of Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall, meanwhile, are all surplus to requirements and will be moved on if possible. All four weren’t registered during the summer.

Here’s Blackpool’s squad as it currently stands ahead of Saturday’s home game against Millwall, to give you an idea of what the Seasiders are currently working with.

GOALKEEPERS: Dan Grimshaw, Chris Maxwell, Stuart Moore

DEFENDERS: Callum Connolly, Marvin Ekpiteta, Jordan Gabriel, Luke Garbutt, Daniel Gretarsson, James Husband, Reece James, Richard Keogh, Dujon Sterling

MIDFIELDERS/WINGERS: Keshi Anderson, Josh Bowler, Owen Dale, Kenny Dougall, CJ Hamilton, Demetri Mitchell, Ethan Robson, Kevin Stewart

FORWARDS: Jake Beesley, Shayne Lavery, Gary Madine, Jerry Yates

UNDER-21s: Ewan Bange, Oliver Casey, Cameron Antwi, Sonny Carey, Luke Mariette

LONG-TERM INJURED: Matty Virtue, Grant Ward

OTHERS: Teddy Howe, Bez Lubala, Joe Nuttall, Oliver Sarkic

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