Neil Critchley: Blackpool winger is loving life at Bloomfield Road

Neil Critchley says sought-after winger Josh Bowler is happy and enjoying his football with Blackpool.

Saturday, 15th January 2022, 8:00 am

The 22-year-old continues to be linked with clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Stoke City.

News of Forest’s approach emerged on the eve of Blackpool’s New Year’s Day clash against Hull City.

Despite the speculation, Bowler performed superbly during Pool’s 1-0 win and earned the credit of his boss after the match.

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Since then, the rumours of outside interest have only intensified, prompting Critchley to sit down with his player.

“I spoke to Josh and we had a good chat,” Pool’s head coach told The Gazette.

“We explained what our thoughts and feelings were and Josh is happy here and is playing really good football.

“He’s of the opinion that what will be will be, but he’s more than happy here and he’s playing fantastic football, so if he continues in that vein his future might get taken out of our hands and his hands.”

The winger has been one of Blackpool’s standout performers this season and it appears his form has not gone unnoticed.

The 22-year-old has made 28 appearances in all competitions this season, with 26 of those coming in the league.

He’s scored two goals this season, one in the Carabao Cup defeat to Sunderland and the winner in the 1-0 league win over Fulham.

The former Everton man also has three assists to his name.

Bowler arrived at Bloomfield Road during the summer on a free transfer, agreeing a one-year contract with the club holding the option to extend the deal by a further 12 months.

The winger was a free agent following his release from Everton, a club he joined in 2017 from QPR for a fee rising to £4.25m.

While Critchley is clearly keen to keep hold of one of his biggest talents, he insists it’s a good thing his players are being linked with clubs higher up the food chain.

“That was one of the things I wanted to change when I came to the club,” he said.

“I looked at the squad and there needed to be a lot of changes.

“There was a big turnaround in terms of upheaval of the numbers in the squad in terms of ins and outs because I wanted to bring in a certain profile of player that helps the club to improve, but the players improve at the same time.

“With that, there might be a chance to generate some funds for the club in the future. To do that you have to get the right players and the right age and have the potential to improve.

“Not only that, but they have the right characteristics from a personality view as well.

“It shows we want to be a club that attracts young, hungry players that have got room for improvement.

“If the players benefit from that and we benefit from it as well, it’s a win-win situation.”

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