A look at Blackpool's summer recruitment so far and where the Seasiders still need to strengthen
There has been an air of panic among Blackpool’s fanbase in the last week or so due to a perceived lack of transfer activity.
That seems odd given the Seasiders have been one of the most active clubs in the transfer market so far this summer, if not the most active, making five new additions already in Keshi Anderson, Marvin Ekpiteta, CJ Hamilton, Oliver Sarkic and Jerry Yates.
But when there’s been an initial flurry of signings, with five arrivals in 24 days, there’s always going to be a smidgeon of impatience when none follow in the subsequent two weeks. Such is the world we live in, I guess.
Three players have departed during that time, which probably hasn’t helped. When fans see players leaving with no replacements instantly lined up, their natural response is to start worrying.
But in Tony Weston, the club were powerless to stop the 16-year-old from making the move north of the border to Rangers and in Ryan Edwards and Ryan Hardie, the club felt - for whatever reason - the duo would be better off elsewhere.
Hardie’s departure certainly caused a ripple of disgruntlement, with fans expressing surprise at the striker not being given a chance following his successful loan spell with Plymouth Argyle last season, where he scored seven times in 13 appearances.
But with so many attacking options at their disposal, the likelihood is the Seasiders couldn’t guarantee the Scot regular playing time for the second season running. And with the former Rangers man striking up a noticeable rapport with the Plymouth fans last season, you can’t blame him for wanting to return to Home Park.
From reading Ryan Lowe’s comments, it also appears Argyle have paid a loan fee to secure Hardie’s services, which should help soften the blow.
Some supporters have suggested recruitment could well be on hold for the time being until further details on the proposed salary cap are made clear.
A vote is expected to be held this week, reportedly pushed back to Friday, so that’s a plausible suggestion.
It’s only natural to be slightly more cautious with the purse strings until the picture becomes clearer in terms of what budget will be available and how big the squad is permitted to be.
If approved, it would mean only 20 senior professionals at each club, with eight homegrown players - those produced from the club's academy system - within that group.
If we take a look at Blackpool’s current squad, the Seasiders have 26 players on their books when you include youngsters Cameron Antwi, Ewan Bange, Jack Sims and Nathan Shaw.
That figure is likely to be chopped down in the coming weeks, with the likes of Liam Feeney, Jamie Devitt and Adi Yussuf likely to depart. We can’t rule out Shaw, Antwi and Bange heading out on loan, either.
With just two recognised centre backs on the books in Marvin Ekpiteta and Jordan Thorniley, it’s clear as day the club will strengthen in that particular department.
But, with Michael Nottingham impressing in that position during his loan spell with Crewe Alexandra last season, there might only be one gap that needs filling, rather than two as some have suggested.
With Ollie Turton and Teddy Howe already signed up for the upcoming campaign, the suggestion is Nottingham will be utilised in the centre rather than at full-back, which was previously considered to be his strongest position.
The Seasiders will certainly need to add depth in central midfield though, with Matty Virtue the only player in that position likely to be considered a first-team regular.
Ben Garrity, who up until now has played all of his football in non-league, deserves a shot, but he’s untested as is Antwi, so further experience is a must.
Blackpool’s 2020/21 League One campaign is scheduled to start on September 12, but new recruits can be made up until the transfer window closes on October 16.
So there is plenty of time for Neil Critchley to assess his squad and bring in further reinforcements to strengthen it.
Critchley has also admitted the club will look to utilise the loan market once again, just as they did so well during the January transfer window bringing in the likes of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Taylor Moore and Connor Ronan.
Should the Seasiders opt to look at youngsters from Premier League clubs, which seems likely, then those deals often tend to happen fairly late in the window. So fans oughtn't need to panic.
Sensing the tone of Critchley’s recent comments, it appears the club are happy to bide their time and not rush into making further signings just for the sake of it.
“Obviously the window is still open until October so we’ve still got a couple of months ahead of us,” he said in a recent interview.
“The market isn’t moving all the time - Covid has obviously played a big part in that, there are lots of players out of contract.
“You always have to be ready to move if you feel necessary, so we’ve still got our eyes open.
“If someone becomes available that we feel is right for us then...I have to say the support that has been given to me - in uncertain times - has been quite fantastic.”
Blackpool’s early business has put them in a strong position. All they require now is the finishing touches, which is a huge bonus given we’ve still got over five weeks until the league gets back underway - an alien concept at Bloomfield Road under previous ownership...
Blackpool’s squad as it stands
Marvin Ekpiteta, Teddy Howe, James Husband, Calum Macdonald, Michael Nottingham, Jordan Thorniley, Ollie Turton
Cameron Antwi, Jamie Devitt, Liam Feeney, Ben Garrity, Nathan Shaw, Matt Virtue, Grant Ward
Keshi Anderson, Ewan Bange, Nathan Delfouneso, CJ Hamilton, Sullay Kaikai, Gary Madine, Joe Nuttall, Oliver Sarkic, Jerry Yates, Adi Yussuf