Neil Critchley reveals Jerry Yates always wanted to stay and play for Blackpool in Championship
It was always Jerry Yates’ intention to wear Blackpool’s number nine shirt in the Championship.
That’s according to head coach Neil Critchley who spoke of his delight at tying the club’s talisman down to a long-term contract.
It quells speculation linking the 24-year-old with a host of other clubs in the second tier, including Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and West Bromwich Albion.
Speaking to The Gazette about Yates’ new deal, Critchley said: “Jerry was quite clear at the end of the season when I spoke to him that he wanted to be Blackpool’s number nine in the Championship. He’s been adamant in that.
“Contract situations can always take a bit of time but we’ve come to the conclusion we all wanted. Jerry wanted that, we wanted that and we’re delighted, absolutely delighted.
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with. The supporters can identify with him. He’s a player of the people, if you like.
“There has been speculation during the summer, which you can expect for your best players. Maybe this contract will quieten that down a little bit.”
Yates, who bagged 23 goals to help fire the Seasiders to promotion, isn’t the only key first-teamer to put pen to paper on a new contract, with both Chris Maxwell and Kevin Stewart following suit.
Critchley added: “It’s a sign of where we are as a football club. I give enormous credit to (owner) Simon Sadler and the support he gives me.
“That was something we wanted to do – to reward the players who made us successful last season, and sometimes your best recruitment is retaining the players you’ve got.
“We’ve managed to do that and it also shows those players want to stay and be a part of something. They enjoy being here, they believe in what we’re doing and where the club’s going.
“They can’t wait to be a part of it and I can’t wait to work with them in the future.”
Having tied down the club’s most important assets to longer-term deals, attention now turns to further strengthening of the squad ahead of the season-opener at Bristol City a week on Saturday.
The main priority will be to bring in a right-back, having lost Ollie Turton to Huddersfield Town while Jordan Gabriel returned to Nottingham Forest following his loan spell.
Pool are keen to bring Gabriel back on a permanent deal but they also have Leicester City defender Mitch Clark currently in on trial.
When asked about the urgency to strengthen in that area of the pitch, Critchley said: “I wouldn’t say it’s urgent because I’ve got players who can play in that position.
“But we’re always looking to make the squad as strong as we can. We saw the benefit of that last year.
“It’s something I tell the players – that I want a strong, competitive squad, so they’ve got to compete with each other and play well to stay in the team.
“ That’s how we get the best out of each other. We don’t want players in the comfort zone thinking they’re going to get picked every week.”
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