Last season was a bitter-sweet for Blackpool. On the one hand, they won their first promotion since that glorious Wembley victory over Cardiff in 2010. On the other, there were around 35k fewer fans in London to see it. Many boycotted the best moment of the season in order to protest, understandably, against the Oyston regime. The spirit and camaraderie within the dressing room remained strong however – and these are six players who could improve the Seasiders’ squad ahead of the 17/18 League One campaign.
Gary Bowyer has spent 11 years of his career at Blackburn and would be foolish not to utilize his contacts at Ewood Park. If Charlie Mulgrew and Darragh Lenihan stay with Rovers, or if another defender joins, they may be open to loaning out the 19-year-old, who recently impressed at Cambridge. Wharton may be deemed to be too young by Tony Mowbray but at Blackpool – who are 6/4 for relegation with Bet Ways as of the 11th July – more grounded expectations present a little more room for error. Tom Aldred’s move to Bury means Pool may require a centre-back, especially if Bowyer plans to use three at the back.
The wing-back system gives Kelvin Mellor and Andy Taylor the freedom to focus more on the attacking side of their game, the duo providing use width last term. Taylor though is 31 and there may be scope for Pool to upgrade on Colin Daniel as competition in this area. Mitchell has progressed steadily through the ranks at Manchester United in more than one position, having an impressive debut at left-back against Crystal Palace. The Red Devils may at a push be willing to let him go out on loan to a nearby League One club, although if they expected the 20-year-old to start every week, that would complicate matters with Taylor named captain.
Aldred started as captain in the play-off final, but when he went off injured, Neil Danns took on the baton with some aplomb. The Bury loanee battled superbly in the second half, imposing his physicality to ensure Exeter passed sideways and never broke into the final third. The Seasiders will have similar tactical ambitions in a lot of their games this season, particularly away from home and a return for the experienced Danns – who has often played at Championship level – would help their cause.
If a deal for Danns cannot be reached, then perhaps John Welsh would be a good contingency option. His defensive discipline was key to Preston North End’s promotion in 2015, particularly in the crucial play-off games. Blackpool need a holding midfielder with Jim McAlister their only option at present. While signing a player from the Lilywhites may not seem attractive, it’s worth pointing out that the likes of Tony Ellis and Brett Omerod made themselves cult heroes at Bloomfield Road.
Barnsley are reportedly interested in Brad Potts, who combined well with Mark Cullen for numerous goals in the play-offs according to Soccer Base. Should the Tykes show desperation to sign the 23-year-old, Bowyer may sense an opportunity. He could demand a player plus cash deal involving George Moncur, who is the same age and does a similar job to Potts but has arguably done it at a higher level, with a better goalscoring record to boot. The signings of McGeehan and courting of Potts may make Moncur feel uneasy about his position at Oakwell and Blackpool could take advantage.
Reports suggest Aston Villa had shown interest in Bright Osayi-Samuel, who caught the eye with his impressive solo goal at Newport. While the inside forward did well last season, he only started 13 times and may not fit smoothly into a first eleven which will include two out-and-out strikers and an attack-minded midfielder. Pool could use the youngster as a bargaining tool for getting Mark Bunn. The goalkeeper has only started 15 league games out of a possible 84 at Villa and having possibly met Bowyer in his time at Blackpool, he may be willing to drop down a league to get regular games. This may be harsh on summer signing Ben Williams, but Myles Boney needs to prove himself lower down the pyramid before becoming second choice at this level.
The aforementioned sextet may be slightly ambitious, but Blackpool already have 28 senior professionals on their books, so any new signings must improve the quality of their first eleven.