Matt Scrafton's opinion: Early starters Blackpool close to completing transfer jigsaw

The general consensus is that Blackpool have enjoyed a highly successful transfer window to date.

Sunday, 30th August 2020, 4:48 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th August 2020, 4:54 pm

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With eight new arrivals already sealed, and most of them signed before rival clubs had even begun thinking about summer recruitment, the club bucked the trend of a lifetime under previous ownership by being proactive in identifying and bringing in targets.

But football supporters are always left wanting more and – dare I say it? – so are managers. “We’re always on the lookout,” is what head coach Neil Critchley told reporters last week, when asked about the possibility of further additions.

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Neil Critchley says he is still on the lookout for more new players but Blackpool would need to offload too

“We’re still working as hard as we can but sometimes you have to be patient.

“We want players to come here because they want to come here and they’re going to improve the squad.”

What fans must remember is that this is far from your normal summer of wheeling and dealing.

Gone are the days when you can bring in as many players as you like, stockpile your squad and hand out eye-watering contracts.

The Seasiders are limited to how many players they can register and are, for the first time, restricted to what wages they can offer following the vote to introduce a salary cap in League One.

Blackpool were clever in making a raft of early signings before that cap came into being, which meant their salaries would fall in line with the league average.

While the EFL has yet to release any official confirmation, clubs are also limited to a squad of 22 senior players aged 21 or over.

It means that after Adi Yussuf joined Wrexham on loan last Friday, further departures from the Seasiders squad will be required.

Ben Garrity and Jamie Devitt are expected to head out, while Liam Feeney and Teddy Howe were also left out at Stoke City on Saturday, when the competitive action got under way with Pool’s Carabao Cup exit on penalties.

The league campaign does not start until a week on Saturday and clubs still have plenty of time to complete their business.

The EFL transfer window closes on Friday, October 16, giving the Seasiders a further 47 days to get their deals done. There’s no rush.

Of course, Critchley and co will want players in the building as soon as possible to integrate them into the squad. But if a deal isn’t workable and isn’t right for the club, it won’t be rushed for the sake of it.

Much has been made of the potential to bring in youngsters on loan from Premier League clubs, which is yet to happen. In fact, Blackpool have made no loan signings as yet.

Loanees have often performed well for Blackpool – you only have to look back at last season, with Taylor Moore, Connor Ronan and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Further back you have Viv Solomon-Otabor and Sean Longstaff.

Are players of that quality now available, though? It doesn’t appear so.

It also seems Premier League clubs have underestimated the financial impact of Covid-19 on clubs in the lower leagues, and are still requesting sizeable loan fees and a high proportion of wages to be paid.

Top-flight clubs appear unwilling to subsidise loan deals any more, which is their prerogative but seems shortsighted.

Perhaps we might see movement on that front later in the window as Premier League sides often leave it late to send their youngsters out on loan, waiting until they know how their squad is shaping up and which individuals may not be required.

Either way, Blackpool are in a good position right now. Rather than requiring major surgery, Critchley’s squad is only in need of some finishing touches.

You’d have to say the Seasiders are in need of further reinforcements in defence, especially at left-back following the departure of Calum Macdonald and at centre-back, where Pool’s first choices still aren’t nailed down following some mixed displays in pre-season.

It’s no coincidence, then, that triallist left-back Demetri Mitchell has been training with the club as has a Scottish centre-half, who is yet to be identified.

Mitchell, who had previously been training with Sunderland, performed well in the two friendlies he featured in and is certainly worth looking at.

If the 23-year-old has overcome his previous injury concerns, then the former Manchester United youngster could be a welcome addition to Blackpool’s squad.

As for a centre-back, that is likely to be the last piece of the jigsaw. But as jigsaws go, Blackpool’s is looking almost complete...