Matt Scrafton column: Blackpool striker speculation shouldn't have come as a surprise

Barely 12 hours after netting a brace during Blackpool’s 3-1 win against Peterborough United, Jerry Yates was linked with a trio of Championship clubs. How coincidental.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:30 pm

Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City and Nottingham Forest are all said to be weighing up a summer move according to reports.

The Seasiders, who are said to value Yates at £2m, are in a position of strength, whatever happens.

They signed the 24-year-old to a three-year deal with the option for a further 12 months during the summer, having paid an undisclosed fee to secure his services from Rotherham United.

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Do I believe clubs higher up the pyramid are interested in Yates? Yes, of course I do. They’d be silly not to.

The striker now has 16 goals for the season in all competitions, an impressive figure given he failed to score in any of his first 11 games.

The likelihood is he’ll become the first Blackpool player since Andy Morrell in 2007 to hit 20 goals in a season, putting him ahead of players including DJ Campbell, Charlie Adam, Kevin Phillips, Tom Ince, Kyle Vassell and Armand Gnanduillet, who all came close but couldn’t quite hit 20.

There’s far more to Yates’ game than just his scoring though.

His pressing, his tireless running, his link-up play and his willingness to run in behind and stretch opposition defences makes him a top player at this level.

His stock is certainly high right now, which might go some way to explaining why speculation has suddenly emerged.

I’d imagine it’s nothing more than agent talk, his representatives putting his name out there to drum up interest or even push Blackpool into offering a longer, more lucrative deal.

It just makes a nice change for Blackpool to have young, up-and-coming players on their books who attract interest from clubs higher up. If that wasn’t the case, there would be a problem.

A club are going to have to stump up a pretty sizeable fee to take Yates off Blackpool’s hands.

As for those deliberating how much Yates is worth, it doesn’t really matter.

He’s worth what a club is willing to pay for him and however much Blackpool value him at.

I find it a worthless exercise comparing him to other players who have left to join a Championship club from League One.

There are different circumstances, different clubs involved, different demands, different ages, negotiating from a position of strength, position of weakness and so on.

Just because Peterborough United managed to get £10m from Brentford for Ivan Toney doesn’t mean Blackpool can demand a similar fee. Every potential deal must be treated on its own merits.

Back to the important stuff, the football – Yates will be looking to continue his fine goalscoring form when Blackpool return to Bloomfield Road tomorrow to take on Plymouth Argyle.

The Seasiders now find themselves in a wonderful position in the league table, inside the play-off spots for the first time this season with games in hand still to play.

Psychologically, that could prove to be huge. The Seasiders’ form has, by and large, remained pretty consistent for the last four or five months.

Because of their slow start to their campaign, they’ve been playing catch-up ever since and the best they could muster, up until Tuesday night, was to sit in the top half.

Now, there could well be a shift in mindset. Blackpool aren’t chasing, they’re being chased.

Although, let’s not forget, there are still five teams ahead of them, they’ve still got games in hand and the automatic promotion places now don’t feel as unattainable as they did a couple of weeks ago – but hey, let’s not get too carried away.

The reverse fixture against Plymouth Argyle, which was Blackpool’s opening league game of the campaign, now feels like a distant memory.

The Seasiders actually performed very well on the day, but found themselves slumping to a 1-0 defeat against the League One newcomers thanks to Luke Jephcott’s early header.

Neil Critchley’s men were by far the better side on the day, but were unable to capitalise on their dominance and were wasteful in front of goal.

That would be the story of their season early on.

Things are much different now. The club is currently consumed by positivity on and off the pitch, which is great to see.

It’s just such a shame that delight can’t be expressed inside Bloomfield Road on a matchday.

Blackpool might have one or two players back for this one – or they might not. Either way, it doesn’t seem to have a great effect on them.

To go 14 games unbeaten in all competitions on home turf is seriously impressive given the lack of fans.

You’d think playing behind closed doors would level the playing field and, for most, it probably has – but not Blackpool.

A quick word on Plymouth. They got back to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-0 win against Joey Barton’s strugglers Bristol Rovers, having previously lost their last five.

It’s the sort of game you’d like to think Blackpool should win but we said the same against AFC Wimbledon, Crewe, Burton Albion and so on.

Having proven their ability to beat the top sides, now Pool’s next task is to beat those below them and there isn’t a better time to start.

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