UPDATED: Blackpool sign highly-rated midfielder

Blackpool have bolstered their midfield ranks with the season-long loan signing of Middlesbrough's highly-rated youngster Callum Cooke.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 4:38 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:48 pm
Cooke in action for Crewe against Blackpool last season

The 20-year-old becomes the Seasiders' ninth signing of the summer, with goalkeeper Ryan Allsop being announced as their eighth earlier today.

Cooke is another player with links to Crewe Alexandra, having enjoyed a fruitful loan spell there last season. He netted four times in 17 appearances during his time at Gresty Road, setting up several more.

“I can’t wait to get started," Cooke said. "Thankfully I did well last season in League Two and I’ve made a step up now, so hopefully I can take it into League One this time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I want to add some creativity to the midfield here and get a few goals and assists again. I hope I can show everybody, including the fans, what I can do."

Cooke was well thought of at the club, with Crewe's assistant manager Kenny Lunt hailing the Boro youngster as "exceptional" and fans calling for his return next season.

Crewe were keen to bring Cooke back but admitted it was a long shot as he was expected to be on the cusp of Middlesbrough’s first-team squad.

But new boss Garry Monk believes it will be more beneficial to Cooke’s development to get regular game time in League One.

Cooke, a former England under-18 international, has been a mainstay in Boro's development side over the past few years, but sealed his first Football League loan move during last season’s January transfer window.

He also made two appearances last season for Middlesbrough’s under-23 side in the Checkatrade Trophy, scoring in the 2-1 defeat against Scunthorpe United.

He is described as a midfielder who is capable of playing anywhere in the forward areas.

Pool boss Gary Bowyer said: “Callum is someone we monitored playing for Crewe last season and I’m pleased that Garry Monk and Middlesbrough have allowed him to continue his development with us,” the manager Gary Bowyer said.

“He’s had plenty of international recognition at a young age and will add more creativity and goals to the team.”

The Seasiders have been in desperate need of midfield reinforcements with Jimmy Ryan and Jim McAlister the only recognised players capable of playing in central midfield, and the latter is still recovering from a broken leg.

Brad Potts was utilised in central midfield in the first half of Pool’s 3-1 friendly win at Southport but he prefers playing in a more advanced role.

It comes after the Seasiders surprisingly released Jack Payne after last season’s Wembley success, while Neil Danns returned to parent club Bury after completing his loan spell.