Lee arrives as striker Thomas is recalled

Elliot Lee
Elliot Lee
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Blackpool beat the loan deadline by minutes to sign West Ham striker Elliot Lee but saw Kwame Thomas head back to Derby.

It was a day of mixed emotions for manager Neil McDonald, who was desperate to add to his squad ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Fleetwood.

With Pool goalless in their last six games, McDonald turned to his previous club West Ham for help.

And just before yesterday’s 5pm deadline, he managed to bag 20-year-old Lee until January 3. The son of former Newcastle and England midfielder Rob, Lee has made two Premier League appearances for the Hammers and featured in this summer’s Europa League qualifying campaign, scoring against Andorran club Lusitans.

Although he managed just four goals in loan spells at Colchester, Southend and Luton, Lee is highly rated by the coaching staff at Upton Park.

He was one of a number of players McDonald enquired about yesterday in a transfer race accelerated by Derby’s shock decision to recall Thomas.

The striker played 22 times for the Seasiders and was due to feature against Fleetwood tomorrow.

Thomas has returned to the Rams’ Under-21 squad, suggesting he or his parent club wished him to stay at Bloomfield Road no longer. He was due to spend a further five weeks with Pool.

McDonald admitted: “We’re disappointed to lose Kwame. He’s developed as a player with us and played first-team football on a regular basis.

“Derby County always held the option to recall him and that has now been activated.

“We thank him for his contribution and wish him the very best for the future.”

New boy Lee will go straight into the squad to take on Fleetwood and will face stiff competition from Jack Redshaw and Mark Cullen.

Redshaw’s omission from the starting line-up for the last two games has raised eyebrows but McDonald said: “It’s a selection issue with Jack. I have decided to go for physicality rather than guile in the last couple of games.

“Jack is one of our best players on the ball but I’ve felt I needed a bit more presence in attack.

“The big man option hasn’t worked either, so we might now have to mix it up again.

“Either way we need to score more goals. Missing chances has cost us dearly.”