Category Archives: Blackpool FC

Bez Lubala trial: “I didn’t expect sex,” says Blackpool FC footballer accused of rape after inviting woman for ‘Netflix and Chill’

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A professional footballer denied inventing details to back up his story after a teenage woman accused him of rape.

Blackpool FC forward Beryly ‘Bez’ Lubala, 24, said the case against him was a complete lie.

He invited the woman, then aged 18, to visit him at his home to watch Netflix, a court heard.

She arrived at his home in Horsham, West Sussex, at around 2222 in the evening on Friday, September 13, 2019.

Blackpool FC Footballer Beryly Lubala denies rape

Blackpool FC Footballer Beryly Lubala denies rape

Later, she recorded two harrowing voice notes as she drove home from the house in Horsham, West Sussex.

They were played to the striker on his second day in the witness box.

Her mother, sitting in the public gallery, covered her ears as the woman was heard sobbing into her phone.

In two voice notes, she described being attacked by the player.

Richard Hearnden for the prosecution asked him: “Do you have an idea how she got in that state?”

Lubala, who lives in Lytham, told a jury in Brighton: “I’m devastated to hear her like that.

“When we were together she was fine.

“I’ve never made any human feel like that.

“The person she’s talking about is not me.

“It’s a complete lie.”

The player joined Crawley Town FC in June and the court heard he had sex with the woman on the only two occasions they had met before the incident.

“You expected her to have sex with you on the 13th and when she said ‘no’ you you forced her,” Mr Hearnden told the player.

He replied: “I disagree.

“I didn’t expect sex the first time.

“The second time, I didn’t think she was going to stay.

“I never talked to her about sex.”

The jury has been shown a Snapchat selfie taken by the woman, now 20, in his bedroom which the player said was taken after they had sex while he was in the bathroom.

Mr Hearnden told him: “You say it’s relevant because she doesn’t look upset.

“She doesn’t look like someone who has just been raped, does she?”

“No one has been raped in that photograph,” the player said.

“I agree, because she took it before you and she had sex,” Mr Hearnden said.

“While you were in the bathroom, she’s done her hair, posed and put the lights on and taken the photo?”

“The time I was with her, the lights were off,” the player said.

Mr Hearnden accused the player of changing his story to say the lights were off.

“I’m not here inventing things,” the player said.

Mr Hearnden challenged the player on his recollection of the incident.

“The reason you can’t remember is your recollection is fairly limited and you have added in details such as lights being off.

“You have lied to this jury,” he said.

“That’s completely false,” the player replied.

The court heard Beryly Lubala, who was transferred to Blackpool FC in August 2020, has not played football for more than a year.

He was suspended on full pay by the club as soon as they were found out he had been charged with rape in December 2020.

The Professional Footballers’ Association (FPA) represented him when the club tried to terminate his contract.

Jurors heard the player’s Congolese father brought his family to the UK from the DRC when he was three and they settled in Leicester.

Beryly Lubala denies raping the young woman at his home in Horsham on September 13, 2019.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton continues.


Opinion: Blackpool find themselves in a curious league position with four months of the season remaining

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Only time will tell if Blackpool’s unscheduled week off will work in their favour.

The general consensus is that the postponement of the Barnsley game probably came at a good time for Neil Critchley’s men.

Unlike most other clubs in the Championship, the Seasiders managed to fulfil their hectic schedule over Christmas and New Year, even when their squad was stretched right to the limit.

That clearly began to take its toll and injuries and positive Covid-19 cases were mounting up, so a weekend off might have even been welcomed by Critchley and co.

The counter-argument, of course, is that Barnsley are bottom of the table and have only won two league games all season, so it was arguably the perfect game for the Seasiders to get back to winning ways after their FA Cup humbling the previous week.

It leaves Critchley’s side in a curious position heading into the final four months of the campaign.

Out of all the cups, nine points off the play-offs and 14 points ahead of the bottom three, you could argue there’s very little to play for between now and the end of the season.

Neil Critchley's side take on Millwall at Bloomfield Road tomorrow

Neil Critchley’s side take on Millwall at Bloomfield Road tomorrow

Critchley obviously won’t be adopting that attitude and, by extension, the players won’t be either.

Nevertheless, while it’s a shame to be out of the cup at the first hurdle, it’s a nice position for Blackpool to be in given this is their first season back in the Championship.

Compare their situation to Peterborough United, who are facing the prospect of a return to the third tier at the first attempt despite beating the Seasiders to automatic promotion last term.

Last season’s title winners Hull City, meanwhile, are facing a relegation battle of their own as they’re only seven points better off than Darren Ferguson’s team.

Having seen both sides in action this season, they’ll do well to avoid the trapdoor.

Barring a shaky start, Blackpool – meanwhile – have never really looked in danger, have they?

A period of adjustment at the beginning of the season was to be expected, especially when you factor in the injury and Covid issues that plagued pre-season as well.

Since then, the Seasiders have looked at home and even threatened a play-off push at one point.

While their form tailed off over Christmas, they’re still well positioned in the table and a top-half finish would certainly represent a fabulous first season back in the second tier of English football.

This weekend, Blackpool face a Millwall side in the midst of a mini-slump having lost their last three games.

The Lions are level on points with Critchley’s men, but sit a place higher owing to their superior goal difference. Gary Rowett’s side have also played a game fewer.

Unfortunately I wasn’t at the reverse fixture at The Den as I had Covid at the time but, by all accounts, Blackpool performed well and were unfortunate not to hold on for a draw despite being down to 10 men.

Blackpool will want to put that result right back on home turf, where form has generally been good, helped by an electric atmosphere at Bloomfield Road.

It’s a shame Dan Ballard isn’t available because he would have got a richly-deserved healthy reception from the home fans on his return to the Fylde coast.

The defender is on loan at Millwall from his parent club Arsenal, who were in touch with the Seasiders this week to recall Tyreece John-Jules from his unsuccessful loan spell.

Being brutally honest, I was surprised the 20-year-old didn’t return sooner.

There is plenty of ability there but he failed to find the back of the net and was clearly out of Critchley’s plans, having not taken to the pitch since mid-October.

An England Under-21 international, you can’t question if the forward has the ability but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t work for him at Blackpool.

One suspects John-Jules will have to drop back down to League One, where he previously enjoyed more fruitful loan spells with Doncaster Rovers and Lincoln City, if he wants to get his career back on track.

Elsewhere, it was also fascinating to see Blackpool recall Ethan Robson from MK Dons.

In one respect it wasn’t much of a surprise, given Blackpool’s lack of options in his position.

Up until this week, everything pointed to the Seasiders using the transfer market to bolster their ranks in central midfield, rather than bring back a player deemed well down the pecking order at the start of the season.

Saying that, the 25-year-old has enjoyed a strong spell in League One this season and, by all accounts, has been one of MK’s standout performers in helping Liam Manning’s side to fifth place in the table.

If his chance arises back at Bloomfield Road, fingers crossed he grasps it with both hands.


Brett Ormerod column: I don’t see why Blackpool would sell Josh Bowler to Nottingham Forest

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Unless Nottingham Forest come in with a ridiculous offer that can’t be refused, I don’t see why Blackpool would want to sell Josh Bowler.

I don’t think he’s shown his full potential yet but that’s also a good thing, because it means there’s a lot more to come from him.

It wouldn’t be a sidewards step because Forest are a big club at this level, but I just think he’s better off at Bloomfield Road for now.

If he wasn’t playing or not involved, I could see why he would want to move but, like I said, I don’t see why Blackpool would even consider letting him go.

It’s been a busy week of transfer news.

Tyreece John-Jules went back to Arsenal, which probably wasn’t a major surprise as the move didn’t really work for him.

He came in at the start of the season and he did alright to begin with, but Neil Critchley has a good, competitive squad and it didn’t work out how the lad would have wanted it to.

Bowler continues to be strongly linked with a move to Nottingham Forest

Bowler continues to be strongly linked with a move to Nottingham Forest

It’s probably best for all parties involved that he goes back to Arsenal and perhaps goes out on loan to another side.

Ethan Robson has come back to Bloomfield Road after having his loan spell at MK Dons cut short early.

I must say, I like Ethan. He’s a good player. He didn’t get a good run in the team last season for whatever reason, but he’s a good player so hopefully he can come back and make an impact.

Given the lack of options in midfield, there’s every chance Robson will become an important member of the squad – but I did like what I saw from him last season.

It’s been another week of transfer speculation with Blackpool, which is what you get with the January transfer window.

When I played, I didn’t make too many moves during the January window, so I can’t comment too much, but it depends on your situation as a player.

When you’re not involved, it’s a good chance to sort that out and get a move, but if you’re playing really well and there’s a lot of interest in you, it can be distracting.

I just got on with my performances and, if there was speculation, try to put it to the back of my head.

If something was going to happen, I was of the mindset that whatever will be, will be.

If you dwell on things like that too much, it can get in your head and affect your performances. You just have to get your head down and keep working hard.

Football moves so quickly. They say a week is a long time in football and I know players that have been out, not involved in the team and looking to move then, all of a sudden, the manager changes, a new man comes in and suddenly they’re back involved, playing and everything is rosy again. That’s just the nature of the game.

It was a shame Blackpool’s game against Barnsley was postponed last week but, by the same token, it might have been welcome in terms of the timing of it, because they have got a few players out with injury.

Blackpool had a hectic Christmas schedule. They were probably one of the busiest sides in the Championship.

Aside from Huddersfield Town, I think they were the only side to play all their games.

Hopefully they’ve been able to get two or three players back fit and they can go again against Millwall this weekend.

I haven’t seen too much of Gary Rowett’s side this season, although I did watch a bit of them in the FA Cup against Crystal Palace the other day.

They’re 13th in the table and just above Blackpool, so they’re a decent team, but they all are in this league.

They’ve lost their last three in all competitions, but sometimes form doesn’t even matter that much in the Championship because anyone can beat anyone.


Beryly Lubala recounts working at Amazon warehouse after Blackpool FC suspension following rape charge

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Blackpool FC’s Beryly Lubala denies raping an 18-year-old woman


Beryly Lubala
Beryly Lubala (Image: Getty)

A Blackpool FC footballer accused of rape cried in court as he described having to work at an Amazon warehouse to support his pregnant girlfriend after being suspended by the club.

Beryly Lubala was earning £1,800 a week at Blackpool FC when police charged him with raping an 18-year-old woman over a year before, while he was still playing for Crawley Town.

24-year-old Lubala denies rape and says the sex was consensual – but the court heard the woman claims he grabbed her hair, told her to keep quiet and “be a good girl”.

At his trial, jurors heard Lubala was interviewed just days after the alleged rape in September 2019. He was charged at the end of 2020.

Lewes Crown Court, sitting at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, heard that by then he had been signed by Blackpool in a £300,000 deal, after creating a “buzz”, scoring five goals in five games at Crawley. After telling Blackpool he was due in court, he says he was immediately suspended for two weeks by the CEO.

Giving evidence, Lubala’s voice broke and he began to cry as he told the jury he had to work at an Amazon warehouse packaging up deliveries and as a care worker taking people to appointments.

He told jurors: “My wage had gone up from £600 to £1,800 a week and at that stage it was enough for me to help my mum back home. When the charge came through I was panicking, stressing, I didn’t know what to do.

“I was told by my agent it was fine and he had looked at it and said I will continue playing until it gets sorted. But I got called in and got given a letter straight away by the CEO and he said ‘you are suspended for two weeks’.

Beryly Lubala
Beryly Lubala (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

“I just didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know if I was going to get paid anymore. My missus was pregnant with my baby and I just didn’t know what to do. I researched stuff and I went to work at Amazon. I packed the bags, I packed up trainers. I also got another job as a caretaker, dropping people to different places.

“My first thought was I just have to get out of it and make as much as possible, and that’s what happened. I have not played professional football since.”

Lubala also said Blackpool took him to court as they wanted to terminate his contract for being dishonest and not disclosing he had been interviewed by police before signing. He told the court he was able to beat the case with the help of the FA and he is still in a contract with Blackpool – but with strict conditions.

Julia Smart QC, defending Lubala, said there is still an ongoing dispute between Crawley Town and Blackpool, who say his former team should have informed them about the allegations.

Lubala said: “If I lost my contract that would have been it really. I am still technically signed by Blackpool but I am not being played. They made me sign a safeguarding contract where I can’t shower at the training ground, I have got to be chaperoned around the stadium, if there’s a female in the room I have to leave the room. With the under-18s I can’t play unless the whole of the team is there and I can only play friendly games.”

Jurors previously heard Lubala and the alleged victim met twice before the alleged rape.

The court heard Lubala met the woman on the day he arrived in Crawley from Birmingham City after she liked a series of photos on his social media. She came to his hotel and they had sex, the court heard, and on the second occasion she had sex with him on a sofa at his friend’s house.

They didn’t speak for around a month after that as she told him she was in a relationship, it was said.

Lubala claims the woman then sent him a nude photo and he deleted her from a social media app, but two weeks later invited her to his new house.

She came over and Lubala said after the pair had sex he went to the bathroom and came back to find her putting her clothes on.

The woman said she had to be up early in the morning and needed to drive home, he told the court.

Yesterday jurors heard voice messages allegedly recorded as the woman was driving home.

Jurors heard the teenager crying as she recorded herself saying: “I drove up to my friend’s house. We’ve been friends for ages. We have slept together in the past. We were just chilling and it just happened and I didn’t want him to. I told him I didn’t want him to. I’m just driving home in the dark, I can’t stop crying.”

The trial continues.



Blackpool FC’s Beryly Lubala rape trial: Footballer claims he didn’t want to have sex day before match

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Beryly Lubala is accused of raping an 18-year-old woman after inviting her over to ‘Netflix and chill’


Beryly Lubala
Beryly Lubala (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

A Blackpool FC footballer accused of raping an 18-year-old woman has said he didn’t want to have sex with her that night because he had a match the next day.

Seasiders forward Beryly Lubala allegedly met the woman after she liked a series of photos on Instagram, leading him to inviting her to his hotel to ‘watch Netflix and chill’.

The woman claims he grabbed her hair and told her to keep quiet and “be a good girl” before raping her at a home in September 2019, following a number of previous sexual encounters.

24-year-old Lubala, known as ‘Bez’, denies rape and said the allegations are a “big shock” as he was on a “good buzz” with his career at the time.

Lewes Crown Court, sitting at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, heard the pair had met twice before the alleged rape and had engaged in sexual activity on both occasions. Lubala had just moved to Crawley at the time to join Crawley Town FC from Birmingham City, the court heard.

In a police interview played to jurors, Lubala said: “I moved over to Crawley on June 23, the first day I was doing testing at the football club. I’m on Instagram, on social media. She found me on social media and she liked a few pictures in a row. I thought she showed interest so I looked at her page, saw she was very nice and beautiful.

“From there we got each other on Snapchat. In a short space of time she said where she was from and I said I had just moved to Crawley. She said ‘yeah I can come up after work, I can come straight there’.”

Lubala, who grew up in Leicestershire, said she came to his hotel that evening and the pair “watched TV and made love quite a few times throughout the night”.

On the second occasion, Lubala said he was staying at a friend’s house with several other young footballers from the team when the woman asked to meet up. She came to the house and chatted with his friends before they both spent the night on the sofa, again having sex.

The footballer said: “I remember a few times she messaged me like ‘Can I come over?’. This time it was me and I said ‘What are you doing, do you want to come and see me?’ and she said ‘No I can’t come and see you, I’m seeing someone now’.

“She said she has got a boyfriend. It was a bit of a surprise. I just backed off. Not being big-headed but I thought if she wants to do that well, I don’t lack in that area. We didn’t speak for like four weeks and then out of the blue she sent me a Snapchat, a nude of herself, showing me her new tattoo.”

Lubala said he told the woman not to message him again and deleted her from the app. He then messaged the woman around two weeks before the alleged incident asking if she wanted to meet. The pair didn’t meet but arranged for her to come over on September 13.

He said: “She said ‘yeah I can come around and chill but I can’t have sex’. That was the first time she had ever said something like that. My response was ‘what are you talking about we don’t have to have sex, we can chill’.

“It was on a Friday, I don’t like to have sex before match day. My legs can feel achy and low on energy. My idea was to watch a movie. I didn’t have any TVs upstairs, only downstairs. She said, ‘no let’s go straight upstairs, I just want to lie down and we will watch something on your iPad’.”

He said after the pair had sex he went to the bathroom and came back to find her putting her clothes on. The woman said she had to be up early in the morning and needed to drive home.

He said: “It was a bit random. This was around half 1. She said ‘I have got to go’. I felt it wasn’t safe for her to drive home but I had football the next day. She has gone home and that was it really. I told her to message me when she got home to let me know she had got home safe. I never got a reply.”

Speaking about his arrest the day before the interview, he added: “It’s all a big shock to me. I haven’t got anything against her as a person. I thought she was nice and good with me. The word rape – it’s a massive shock. And she knows I’m not that type of person. I’m on a good buzz with my football career. I had just moved to Crawley.

“My football career was going well. And it’s all a big shock to me from someone I thought was a nice person. I really don’t [know why she has accused me]. I don’t know. It can’t be from anything I have done. So I don’t know why she has. I really don’t know.”

He said the pair had discussed being in an exclusive relationship but they had agreed to “see how things go”.

Yesterday jurors heard voice messages allegedly recorded as the woman was driving home.

The teenager could be heard crying as she said: “I drove up to my friend’s house. We’ve been friends for ages. We have slept together in the past. We were just chilling and it just happened and I didn’t want him to. I told him I didn’t want him to. I’m just driving home in the dark, I can’t stop crying.”

The trial continues.



Bisexual woman denies accusing Blackpool FC footballer Bez Lubala of rape to cover her regret of sleeping with a man

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A bisexual woman denied accusing Blackpool FC footballer Beryly Lubala of rape to cover her regret at sleeping with a man, a court heard.

The woman, now aged 20, tried to retract her allegation twice before going to trial, a jury heard.

Blackpool FC footballer Bez Lubala

She claimed Lubala attacked her after going to his house to watch Netflix.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 18-years-old when she met the player.

During harrowing cross-examination by Julia Smart QC, the clearly distressed woman sobbed as she repeatedly denied inventing the rape.

Ms Smart suggested she mulled over what had happened with Lubala, then aged 21, and regretted having sex with him.

“No, I’m not a liar,” the woman said.

“I wouldn’t have put myself through two-and-a-half years of trauma if I had just regretted something.”

“Is it you got carried away and regretted you had slept with a man?” Ms Smart asked.

“I regretted going because I now have to deal with this for the rest of my life, but I didn’t consent,” the woman sobbed.

“My sexuality has nothing to do with this.”

Asked about a Snapchat selfie she took in the player’s bedroom, the woman insisted she took it before the incident.

Graphic details of the alleged rape were put to the woman who said she is now in a stable same-sex relationship.

The woman said she was crying throughout and told the player to stop.

Detailed examination of the woman continued despite Richard Hearnden for the prosecution objecting to the style of questioning.

Ms Smart told the woman: “I’m going to suggest everything that happened in that bedroom was entirely with your consent and, in fact, at your instigation and you changed your mind.”

“No, I never instigated anything,” the woman replied.

“I come from a respectful family.”

Her Honour Judge Shani Barnes ended the cross examination by saying: “Enough.”

The woman confirmed she tried to withdraw her evidence and back out of the prosecution a year before trial.

Asked by Mr Hearnden why she tried to back out of the trial, the woman said: “I have a different life now. I have a girlfriend and a career and I thought this would put me 10 steps back and it has.”

The amateur sportswoman was quizzed about her previous meetings with the player.

She admitted going up to his room at a hotel in Crawley within half an hour of meeting Lubala for the first time.

They had sex and she stayed overnight, the court heard.

The court heard she met and had sex with him a second time before beginning a relationship with another woman.

Jurors at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton heard text message exchanges between them where the woman accused the player of only ever contacting her for a “booty call”.

She denied the defence’s suggestion she wanted a relationship with the player.

The woman said she was naive and trusting.

“He said he didn’t want sex and I believed him,” she said.

Lubala denies raping the young woman at his home in Horsham on September 13, 2019.

The Covid delayed trial at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton continues.


Blackpool FC footballer Bez Lubala appearing in court accused of raping teenager

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool FC footballer Beryly Lubala is appearing in court accused of raping a teenager.

Lubala hasn't played for Blackpool since February of last year

Lubala hasn’t played for Blackpool since February of last year

Lubala, 24, grabbed the 18-year-old by the hair, telling her to stop making noise and be a good girl before raping her, a jury in Brighton was told.

The forward denies the claims, which relate to an incident at his home on September 13, 2019.

At the time he played for League Two side Crawley Town, not joining the Seasiders until a year later.

“We’re aware that Beryly Lubala is standing trial in court this week for an alleged offence during his time at Crawley Town,” the club said in a statement.

“Until the legal process has concluded and an outcome has been reached, the club is unable to comment further.”

Lubala is accused of assaulting the teenager after inviting her to Netflix and chill, the court heard.

The woman, now aged 20, told police she made it clear she did not want sex with the player in several text messages before driving to his home in Horsham.

She sobbed and told the court; “I said no and he carried on. He turned into a different person. There was no kind of listening to what I did and didn’t want.”

“It was just like a stranger,” the woman told Sussex Police.

Lubala was attracting attention from Championship and Premier League scouts after joining Crawley Town from Birmingham City when the woman said she was attacked in September 2019.

The jury heard the striker, who joined Blackpool a year later, had sex with the teenager on two occasions before she visited him at his home.

The court heard the young woman slept with the player twice before – once in a hotel on the day he arrived in Crawley and again in a house he was sharing with other young players.

She then blocked him from her social media after starting a new relationship.

After the relationship ended, the player contacted her again by text message.

The jury heard the player told her he only wanted to watch Netflix and chill before she agreed to visit him a third time.

Emotional voice messages recorded as the woman left to drive herself home were played to the jury.

Richard Hearnden for the Crown told the court they could hear the woman say she felt violated in the raw, unfiltered account.

The teenager could be heard crying as she recorded the messages.

“I drove up to my friend’s house,” she said. “We’ve been friends for ages. We have slept together in the past.

“We were just chilling and it just happened and I didn’t want him to. I told him I didn’t want him to.

“I’m just driving home in the dark, I can’t stop crying.”

Mr Hearnden told the court: “She wasn’t raped by a stranger or outdoors or in the street or in an alleyway.

“She was raped by a man she knew, in his house.

“She wasn’t in a relationship with the man but they had been intimate before.”

The forward hasn’t made an appearance for Blackpool since February 2021.

Speaking to The Gazette in April, head coach Neil Critchley revealed Lubala was unavailable for selection due to a “club matter”.

“Bez isn’t available at the moment,” Critchley said at the time.

“It’s a club matter and I can’t elaborate on that I’m afraid, that’s it.”

Lubala agreed a three-year deal with the club in September 2020 after signing from Crawley for an undisclosed fee.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton continues.


How Blackpool’s 25-man squad is shaping up ahead of the final days of the January transfer window

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The new-fangled limitations placed on squad lists is a key component of transfer business that is often forgotten about.

Supporters might think their club needs two, three or four new additions during a transfer window, but it’s never quite as simple as that and – in the age of squad restrictions – recruitment can be more puzzling than ever.

Tyreece John-Jules’ departure yesterday means Blackpool now have some much-needed wiggle room when it comes to their 25-man squad – but it’s a constantly moving jigsaw.

The Seasiders have already bolstered their camp this month with the addition of striker Jake Beesley from Rochdale.Owen Dale, meanwhile, finally had his loan spell from Crewe Alexandra turned into a permanent one, as was originally the plan.

Elsewhere, Ethan Robson has returned early from his loan spell in League One with MK Dons to help boost Blackpool’s numbers in midfield, where they’re severely lacking in numbers.

It comes after Ryan Wintle was recalled by Cardiff City, leaving Kenny Dougall as Blackpool’s only natural central midfielder who is currently considered to be 100 per cent fit, although even he is carrying an arm injury.

There is better news on the horizon though, as Kevin Stewart is now back in training and fit for selection – although he’s likely to take some time to get fully back up to speed and perhaps can’t be wholly relied upon, having only made three appearances all season.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

While Callum Connolly and Reece James are predominately defenders, they can fill in higher up the field if and when required, as they’ve already done on occasions this season.

Nevertheless, Neil Critchley remains keen to bolster his options in central midfield, where he was already short on options even before Wintle’s untimely departure.

If Blackpool do want to bring in more than one player between now and January 31, it’s highly likely there will have to be further departures.

Here’s why…

Once the January window closes in 13 days’ time, the Seasiders will have 24 hours to submit their new 25-man squad list to the EFL.

Any player aged 21 or under doesn’t have to be included. However, unlike League One last season, any loan player – irrespective of age – must be formally registered.

Any changes to the list may only be made during a window, otherwise clubs must seek permission from the EFL – although this is a rule that could well be relaxed given the current disruption caused by positive Covid-19 cases within squads.

As it stands, Blackpool are likely to be almost at the max of their 25-man quota limit, giving them little room to manoeuvre.

However, further space appeared yesterday when Tyreece John-Jules returned to Arsenal after his unsuccessful loan stay at Bloomfield Road.

It’s fair to say the 20-year-old’s loan spell didn’t go to plan, with the forward’s last appearance for the club coming in mid-October.

But further gaps could also be created if players currently sidelined with injuries aren’t formally registered.

This happened during the summer when CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine were left out after undergoing surgery before the season got underway, only to be added in at a later date once they returned to full fitness.

However, while the likes of Chris Maxwell, James Husband and Keshi Anderson are all currently sidelined, they’re not expected to be long-term absentees and are unlikely to be taken out of the official 25-man squad completely.

And while Sonny Carey is a player likely to be out for the foreseeable future with a fractured metatarsal, he doesn’t count towards the quota anyway as he’s aged under 21.

The picture is further muddied with the potential return of Matty Virtue, who has been out since March with a serious ACL problem.

While the 24-year-old has only just returned to light training and will need time to complete his rehabilitation and get back up to speed, there’s every chance he could come back into consideration before the season ends – which gives Critchley another conundrum.

Grant Ward is another sidelined player to think about, although he’s thought to be behind Virtue in his recovery so is likely to be left out.

Naturally, a further gap could also open up with any other departures, such as Josh Bowler – who has been the subject of bids from Nottingham Forest – or Daniel Gretarsson, who is down the pecking order and has recently been linked with a move to Poland.

The likes of Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall, meanwhile, are all surplus to requirements and will be moved on if possible. All four weren’t registered during the summer.

Here’s Blackpool’s squad as it currently stands ahead of Saturday’s home game against Millwall, to give you an idea of what the Seasiders are currently working with.

GOALKEEPERS: Dan Grimshaw, Chris Maxwell, Stuart Moore

DEFENDERS: Callum Connolly, Marvin Ekpiteta, Jordan Gabriel, Luke Garbutt, Daniel Gretarsson, James Husband, Reece James, Richard Keogh, Dujon Sterling

MIDFIELDERS/WINGERS: Keshi Anderson, Josh Bowler, Owen Dale, Kenny Dougall, CJ Hamilton, Demetri Mitchell, Ethan Robson, Kevin Stewart

FORWARDS: Jake Beesley, Shayne Lavery, Gary Madine, Jerry Yates

UNDER-21s: Ewan Bange, Oliver Casey, Cameron Antwi, Sonny Carey, Luke Mariette

LONG-TERM INJURED: Matty Virtue, Grant Ward

OTHERS: Teddy Howe, Bez Lubala, Joe Nuttall, Oliver Sarkic


Blackpool to face Newcastle United in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup – here’s what we know

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Blackpool will face Newcastle United in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.


The Premier League outfit edged out Colchester United 3-2 at St James’ Park last night to set up an enticing tie with the Seasiders in the next round of the competition.

John Murphy’s side made it to the last 16 with wins over Huddersfield Town and Cheltenham Town.

The Under-18s will now host the Magpies for a spot in the quarter-finals.

While official details haven’t been confirmed, the tie is likely to take place at Bloomfield Road and must be played by Saturday, February 5.

The young Seasiders, meanwhile, were involved in a 10-goal thriller in their league encounter against Accrington Stanley at the weekend.

Murphy’s men came from behind to thrash their Lancashire rivals 7-3 at Myerscough College on Saturday.

John Murphy's side will take on Premier League side Newcastle for a place in the quarter-finals

John Murphy’s side will take on Premier League side Newcastle for a place in the quarter-finals

Jake Daniels ran in four goals, while Zack Littler, Prince Yelegon and James Harrison were also on the scoresheet.

It leaves Blackpool third in the league table, nine points behind leaders Carlisle United but with three games in hand to play.

Murphy’s side, who are also four points behind rivals Preston North End, can cut the gap when they take on the table toppers on Saturday.



Owen Dale believes Blackpool can still have ‘special’ season

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Owen Dale insists Blackpool still have everything to play for during the second half of the season.

The recent exit from the FA Cup means Neil Critchley’s players only have league matters to focus on between now and the end of the campaign.

Despite a mixed festive period, the Seasiders are 12th in the Championship and nine points off the play-offs – although they have played more games than most sides around them.

Owen Dale's top target is to cement a place in the Blackpool team

Owen Dale’s top target is to cement a place in the Blackpool team

Pool, who host Millwall at Bloomfield Road on Saturday, also boast a 14-point buffer to the bottom three.

Dale said: “We’ve said it numerous times, we feel we can really kick on and achieve something special this season.

“On a personal note, I just want to nail down a first-team spot and chip in with a few goals and assists, because that’s my job and my role in the team.”

The 23-year-old recently made his move a permanent one after spending the first half of the season on loan from Crewe Alexandra.

The winger scored on his debut at Reading in October but only managed another six appearances, last featuring in the defeat at Derby County on December 11.

Dale’s loan got off to a delayed start as a foot issue emerged during his medical, meaning he didn’t make his Blackpool bow for another seven weeks after joining.

Nevertheless, he is excited to strike up a long-term relationship with Critchley, a man he knows well from his time at Crewe.

“I’ve known the gaffer for a long time,” Dale said. “He brought me through as a young kid and he’s now my manager.

“With the faith he’s shown in me to get the deal done, I want to repay that and I will repay that.

“I’m just relieved to get the move done because the negotiations went on a bit longer than expected, but that sort of stuff happens.

“I’m buzzing to be here on a permanent deal and can’t wait to crack on.

“Subconsciously it’s massive for me. I’ll have a lot more freedom and I won’t be overthinking anything because it’s done now, I’m here and I’m really looking forward to the future.”


Blackpool recall Ethan Robson from MK Dons loan spell amid reports of rejected bids

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Blackpool have recalled Ethan Robson from his loan spell at MK Dons amid reports the club have rejected two bids from the League One outfit.

The 25-year-old was due to remain with the League One outfit until the end of the season, but has been recalled early.

It’s understood the Seasiders only notified MK and Robson of their intentions to bring him back this morning.

Robson has made 23 appearances in all competitions for Liam Manning’s side this term, scoring once, and has attracted plenty of plaudits.

But amid a growing crisis in Blackpool’s central midfield, Neil Critchley has opted to recall Robson early from his spell at Stadium:MK.

“Blackpool Football Club can confirm that Ethan Robson has been recalled from his loan spell at MK Dons, ” the club said in a brief statement.

“The midfielder, who linked up with MK in July, returns to Bloomfield Road having made 23 appearances for the Sky Bet League One side this season.”

Robson has enjoyed an impressive loan spell with MK Dons this season

Robson has enjoyed an impressive loan spell with MK Dons this season

The news will come as a major blow for MK, who are flying high in fifth place in the League One table.

“Ethan Robson has today returned to parent club Blackpool,” the club said in their own statement.

“MK Dons were informed this morning of Blackpool’s decision to activate the recall clause in the midfielder’s loan deal.”

MK’s sporting director Liam Sweeting, meanwhile, added: “We are very much disappointed to lose Ethan but, ultimately, we have to respect the decision of his parent club, Blackpool.

“Ethan contributed to a strong first half of the season and he leaves with our gratitude and best wishes for the remainder of the season.

“As with all players, we have plans in place should they depart the football club.

“Work is already well underway to bolster our squad during the remaining weeks of the transfer window.”

Robson made 36 appearances for the Seasiders last season after signing on a free transfer, but was allowed to depart this season after falling down the pecking order at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool were already low on options in central midfield before Cardiff City opted to recall Ryan Wintle from his season-long loan deal earlier this month.

Matty Virtue and Grant Ward are long-term absentees, while Kevin Stewart has only just returned from his own injury and will need some time to get up to speed.

Elsewhere, Kenny Dougall is the only fit and available player who specialises as a central midfielder, although Callum Connolly and Reece James can also fill in there.

The Seasiders continue to be linked with central midfielders in the January transfer window, including Oxford United’s Cameron Brannagan, Ebou Adams, of Forest Green Rovers, and Swansea City’s Jay Fulton.

But as yet Blackpool are yet to strengthen in that area of the pitch.


Who are Ebou Adams and Jay Fulton? A closer look at the latest two players to be linked with Blackpool

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Blackpool might not have had a match this weekend, but there was still plenty of news for Seasiders fans to get their teeth stuck into.


Fresh from making two January additions last week, Neil Critchley’s men were also linked with two new faces over the weekend in Ebou Adams, of Forest Green Rovers, and Swansea City’s Jay Fulton.

Unsurprisingly, both are central midfielders and it’s been suggested they could be viewed as potential alternatives for Cameron Brannagan, who currently remains an Oxford United player despite being Blackpool’s number one target this month.

But what do we know about Adams and Fulton? We take a closer look here…

Ebou Adams, Forest Green

According to the Football Insider, Blackpool are among a host of Championship sides looking at the 26-year-old.

An all-action midfielder, Adams is now into the final six months of his contract at the New Lawn Stadium.

Blackpool are one of several Championship clubs said to be interested in Forest Green's Ebou Adams

Blackpool are one of several Championship clubs said to be interested in Forest Green’s Ebou Adams

According to reports, Forest Green – who currently hold a seven-point lead at the top of the League Two table – are determined to keep hold of their star man, who is currently away on African Cup of Nations duty with Gambia.

Before heading away on international duty, Adams had made 21 appearances for Rob Edwards’ side in all competitions.

He made the move to Gloucestershire in 2019 after spending one season in the National League with Ebbsfleet United.

That move came after loan spells at Braintree, Shrewsbury Town and Leyton Orient while he was at Norwich City, where he failed to make an appearance.

To date, Adams has made 101 appearances for Forest Green and has chipped in with nine goals and 11 assists.

The midfielder has featured in both AFCON group games for Gambia. Born in England to Gambian parents, Adams has been capped 10 times by his adopted country having made his debut in 2017.

Adams classes himself as an energetic box-to-box midfielder, who likes to defend and make “crunching” tackles as much as he likes to get forward, create and chip in with goals.

Jay Fulton, Swansea City

The 27-year-old finds himself down the pecking order at Swansea, where he’s not made a league appearance since September.

Fulton did make a fleeting appearance in the FA Cup last week, replacing Michael Obafemi in the 90th minute of Swansea’s 3-2 third round defeat to Southampton.

The midfielder has only started five games this season, coming off the bench in another.

According to reports, Swansea are happy to let their player go this month, with both Blackpool and Barnsley interested in a potential loan move. But it’s understood the South Wales outfit would rather sanction a permanent exit.

Born in Bolton, Fulton qualifies for Scotland through his father Steve, who played for Celtic, Falkirk and Hearts during an 18-year playing career of his own.

Jay was born during his Dad’s time at Bolton Wanderers during the 1993/94 season.

Fulton has been capped by Scotland from Under-18 to Under-21 level.

Like his Dad, Fulton also spent time with Celtic, Hearts and Falkirk as a youngster before starting his professional career with the latter in 2011.

He eventually made 83 appearances for the Scottish outfit before earning a move to Swansea in 2014, where he’s since played 132 times.

He also spent brief loan spells with Oldham Athletic and Wigan Athletic.

Known to be more of a technical player, Fulton is a midfielder that looks to dictate the tempo of a game and pick out forward players from deep.

He’s calm on the ball and neat and tidy in possession, but can also break down opposition attacks too.



Blackpool handed fresh injury blow ahead of Barnsley clash – but there is better news elsewhere

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Blackpool have been handed yet another injury blow ahead of this weekend’s game against Barnsley.

Neil Critchley’s squad has been depleted by injuries and positive Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, missing as many as 10 players at one point.

Those concerns have only been added to this week with news that James Husband and Keshi Anderson will now also be missing for a “number of weeks”, according to Pool’s head coach.

It comes after the pair both suffered hamstring injuries during last week’s FA Cup defeat to Hartlepool United.

“They will both be out for a number of weeks,” Critchley said.

“We’d probably expect Keshi to be out a little longer than Hubby.

“It’s a blow because they’ve been good players for us, but we had injuries last year and we’ve had injuries this year. Keshi missed a lot of last season unfortunately.

Keshi Anderson suffered a hamstring injury during last week's cup tie

Keshi Anderson suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s cup tie

“We’ll just get on with it and do the best we can as we always do, because it creates opportunities for other people in the squad.

“I think we’ve got good competition for places and we’ve got a good, strong squad, so hopefully we will see the benefit of that in the second half of the season.”

There is better news elsewhere though, with Critchley revealing Kevin Stewart is back in training.

The midfielder has endured an injury-hit campaign this season, making only three appearances in total.

His potential return is timely given Critchley is without a number of options in central midfield and is having to rely on Callum Connolly and Kenny Dougall as his only two fit performers in that position.

“There’s positive news with the fact Kev Stewart has been training this week,” Critchley added.

“He started joining in towards the back end of last week so that’s a positive for us.

“We saw Luke Garbutt back on the pitch last week which was a positive for us as well.

“Reece James, we’re hoping he starts doing some running either today or tomorrow which would be a positive step in the right direction for him.

“Sonny Carey is waiting to have an operation on his foot. He had Covid last week so unfortunately he couldn’t have his operation.

“We’re still waiting on Chris Maxwell, but Matty Virtue has started joining in a little bit of training which is fantastic news for him. It’s really good to have him back around the group.

“It’s much too soon and early to be contemplating involving him in the squad, but that’s great news for him.

“Grant Ward is a little bit further behind.”

Stewart is unlikely to be thrown straight back into the starting line-up given his injury problems.

But given Pool’s lack of depth in that position, Critchley is delighted to have the 28-year-old back in contention.

“When you look at him and see him doing his running, you wouldn’t think he’d been out injured,” he said.

“He’s very diligent in the work he does, he’s very conscientious looking after himself and he has been a miss for us. We miss his presence and experience on the pitch.

“To go without him for virtually the first half of the season has been a loss to us.”

When asked if Stewart is in contention for Saturday’s trip to Barnsley, Critchley replied: “He’s training, so that puts him in contention yes.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to work out at the moment our midfield options are slightly light, so if he is available would be a bonus to us at this moment in time.”


Blackpool finally announce the permanent signing of Crewe Alexandra winger Owen Dale

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Owen Dale’s switch to Blackpool has finally been made into a permanent one.

The winger returned to Crewe Alexandra during the week after his loan spell at Bloomfield Road expired.

Dale initially joined the Seasiders on September 1 with a view to making the move permanent this month.

However, that was thrown into doubt when Crewe boss David Artell released a statement claiming the Railwaymen would “endeavour” to do all they could to get him back “fit and available”.However, contrary to reports, it’s understood a permanent move was always on the cards and it was just a case of finding a resolution between the two clubs.

Dale has agreed a two-year deal with the Seasiders, with an option to extend by 12 months.

Head coach Neil Critchley told The Gazette: “The agreement of the loan was always due to run out in January and then it was about finding an agreement – like with any transfer – between two clubs, which can take a bit of time.

“We found that resolution and both clubs came to an agreement, so he now becomes a permanent Blackpool player.

Dale's loan spell with the Seasiders has now ended

Dale’s loan spell with the Seasiders has now ended

“I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Owen back to the club on a permanent basis.

“Owen is someone I’ve known for a very long time. I’ve seen him have a very good upbringing and education at Crewe.

“I thought he had a fantastic season last season in a good Crewe team and this has always been our plan to bring him here permanently.

“We’re delighted we’ve been able to find a resolution with Crewe to come to an agreement.”

Dale scored on his Blackpool debut in the comeback win at Reading in October but only managed another six further appearances, last featuring in the defeat at Derby County on December 11.

The winger’s loan got off to a delayed start as an issue with his foot emerged during his medical, meaning he didn’t make his Blackpool bow for another seven weeks after joining.

Despite his stop-start time at Bloomfield Road to date, Critchley is excited about what the future holds for his latest recruit.

Dale becomes Blackpool’s second signing of the January transfer window, following in the footsteps of striker Jake Beesley from Rochdale.The Seasiders are also keen to strengthen in central midfield, where their options have been depleted by injuries and the recall of Ryan Wintle to Cardiff City.


Owen Dale vows there’s a lot more to come from him in a Blackpool shirt after sealing permanent switch

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Owen Dale vows there’s a lot more to come from him in a Blackpool shirt.

It comes after the winger’s permanent switch to Bloomfield Road was finally completed after his loan spell from Crewe Alexandra had expired.

The 23-year-old returned to Gresty Road earlier in the week, throwing doubts over whether he would join the Seasiders permanently as initially advertised.

Dale initially joined Blackpool on September 1 with a view to making the move permanent this month.

However, Dale has now finally become a Blackpool player, agreeing a two-year deal plus a 12-month option for an undisclosed fee, which is understood to be below the £500,000 that had previously been reported.

Now his future is resolved, Dale believes his permanent switch will give him the “freedom” and “momentum” to perform well on a more consistent basis.

He scored on his Blackpool debut in the comeback win at Reading in October but only managed another six further appearances, last featuring in the defeat at Derby County on December 11.

Dale has now joined Blackpool on a permanent basis

Dale has now joined Blackpool on a permanent basis

The winger’s loan got off to a delayed start as an issue with his foot emerged during his medical, meaning he didn’t make his Blackpool bow for another seven weeks after joining.

“I’m happy to now be here as a permanent player and I’m ready to really crack on,” he told the club’s official website.

“This will give me a lot more freedom.

“I’ve done fine so far, but there’s definitely a lot more to come from me and I can now kick on and show that.

“In football you always want to gain some momentum and that’s something I’ve not quite been able to do yet.

“Now I can get that momentum, help the team and show what I’m here to do.”


Blackpool’s trip to Barnsley CALLED OFF due to Covid-19 in the opposition camp

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Blackpool’s trip to Barnsley has been postponed.

The Seasiders were due to make the journey over the Pennines to Oakwell on Saturday to take on the struggling Tykes.

But the fixture has been called off due to a Covid-19 outbreak among the Barnsley squad, which is also low on numbers due to injuries.

“We have advised the EFL that the club will be unable to fulfil Saturday’s fixture against Blackpool. Therefore, the game has been postponed,” Barnsley said in a statement.

“Alongside long-term injuries, a large number of players and backroom staff have tested positive for Covid-19.

“We apologise for the inconvenience of this postponement and details regarding the rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated to our supporters in due course.”

It’s Barnsley’s second fixture to be chalked off this week after the South Yorkshire outfit were also forced to postpone their midweek clash against Stoke City.

Blackpool's trip to Oakwell will need to be rearranged

Blackpool’s trip to Oakwell will need to be rearranged

That announcement came just two days after Payo Asbaghi’s side were taken all the way to extra-time by League Two side Barrow in the FA Cup on Saturday, eventually edging through 5-4.

Barnsley languish in the Championship’s bottom three, having won just two league games all season.

Barnsley’s chief executive officer Khaled El-Ahmad said: “Covid-19 continues to test all individuals in all walks of life, be it logistically or financially.

“It was well documented following our FA Cup fixture that Covid-19 had infiltrated our squad. As the days progressed, it became clear that we would not be able to field a team on Wednesday evening and attention turned to quelling the outbreak and preventing further spread.

“I must note that it’s not just the playing staff that have been impacted, departments who interact on a daily basis with the players have also suffered.

“Thankfully, those individuals who returned a positive result remain in good spirits and are following NHS guidance closely.

“In light of Wednesday night’s postponement, we began asking questions regarding Saturday’s fixture.

“With the knowledge that this new variant is extremely transmissible, staff at Oakwell have respected the necessary guidance and plans to reduce potential transmission.

“I, of course share the frustration of our community, however the safety and well-being of our players and staff is of paramount importance.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please continue to stay safe.”

It’s the first time a Blackpool game has been called off this season.

Neil Critchley’s side, who have been depleted by Covid and injuries themselves in recent weeks, are just one of two Championship sides to play all 26 scheduled games so far this season.

As per every postponement, the EFL will now review the circumstances surrounding the decision to call off the game.

A new date for the fixture will be confirmed in due course.

All previously purchased tickets will remain valid for the rearranged game, however Barnsley will offer refunds for those unable to attend the new date.


Blackpool defender Jordan Thorniley linked to permanent Oxford switch in Cameron Brannagan deal

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Blackpool could offer Jordan Thorniley to Oxford United on a permanent basis in their bid to get a deal for Cameron Brannagan over the line, according to reports.

The Seasiders continue to be strongly linked to central midfielder Brannagan, a former Fleetwood Town loanee.

Oxford have confirmed that a bid for the 25-year-old, reported to be from the Seasiders, has been rejected.

Jordan Thorniley has made 23 appearances for Oxford on loan from Blackpool

Jordan Thorniley has made 23 appearances for Oxford on loan from Blackpool

It is now being suggested that centre-back Thorniley could be offered to the League One club in a player-plus-cash deal.

Thorniley is on a season-long loan at Oxford and has made 23 appearances since his move at the start of August. The 25-year-old has featured in 19 of this season’s 25 League One games.

Cheshire-born Thorniley, signed from Sheffield Wednesday two years ago, will be out of contract at Blackpool this summer, though the club have the option to extend his deal by a further 12 months.

Oxford boss Karl Robinson has criticised Brannagan’s agent for bypassing him in an attempt to force a move through.

The player stared Saturday’s league game at Lincoln City but was forced off injured.


Injuries to Keshi Anderson and James Husband a worry for Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

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Blackpool boss Neil Critchley hopes the injuries to Keshi Anderson and James Husband are not “as serious as they look” after being fully assessed this week.

Critchley said: “It was a big blow. Keshi has scored our goal and has been a big player for us, and to see him limp off the pitch holding his hamstring is not nice.

“Hubby again felt his hamstring a little bit. We’re hoping that one is not as bad but we’ll assess them both.

Keshi Anderson receives treatment at Hartlepool but had to leave the field before half-time

Keshi Anderson receives treatment at Hartlepool but had to leave the field before half-time

“Those two players have been regulars in our team this season, so it isn’t ideal.

“They have been linking up well on the left side and have built a relationship.

“When they come off you do lose that bit of harmony, if you like, in the team and we certainly lost that at the start of the second half. It will give other players an opportunity to play.”

Husband’s early exit provided a chance for Luke Garbutt to return after injury for his first game in over two months.

Critchley was not using the injuries as an excuse for the 2-1 upset against League Two opposition.

He added: “It is not the reason we lost but it did disrupt us a little because you are bringing off two players who have been mainstays of our team this season.

“It then limits what you can do second half because we only had one stoppage left – you can only make three stoppages although you can make five subs.

“We could have used that stoppage straight after they went 2-1 up, but then you are thinking that if you make the stoppage too soon you wouldn’t have any left with a long time to play.

“So it was that balancing act – when do you flip the coin and take that calculated risk?”

Town brought on Demetri Mitchell and Jerry Yates on 78 minutes and Critchley added: “We had a right go near the end. We got lots of balls into the box but nothing quite fell for us. We still created opportunities but just didn’t take them.”

Husband and Anderson had both started three games in seven days over the festive season and Critchley conceded that could have been a factor in their injuries.


Blackpool midfielder Tayt Trusty follows Jack Moore to Radcliffe on loan and makes debut on same day

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New Blackpool professional Tayt Trusty has followed fellow teenager Jack Moore to non-league Radcliffe on loan.

Midfielder Trusty joined the Northern Premier League top-flight club on a 28-day loan on Tuesday and made his debut that evening in the 3-2 home defeat by Bamber Bridge.

Academy products Moore and Trusty both signed their first professional contracts with Blackpool last week and both were in the Radcliffe starting line-up against Brig.

Tayt Trusty has made his first loan move after agreeing his first professional contract at Blackpool

Tayt Trusty has made his first loan move after agreeing his first professional contract at Blackpool

Full-back Moore made his loan move last Friday and made his full debut the following day in the victory at Grantham Town.


Blackpool owner eventually wants to see homegrown players representing the Seasiders

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A new training ground is central to Simon Sadler’s vision of Blackpool FC as a centre of excellence for producing young players.


The Seasiders’ owner admits legal issues have delayed the process but insists the announcements will be worth waiting for.

Sadler told The Gazette: “It’s very exciting because we all want to see young players come through.

“One of the reasons we want to build a new training ground is to ensure we have an integrated centre with the academy right through to the first-team.

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler

“With a facility like that, we will become the destination club for the whole of the Fylde coast.

“There are few things more exciting in football than seeing homegrown kids coming through to the first-team and I very much want that to be part of the Blackpool story.

“I hope over the coming years we will see more and more kids come through, particularly local kids.”

It’s that time of year when the focus on recruitment is at its most intense, with a one-month window to reinforce first-team squads for the second half of the campaign.

Sadler believes it’s an area where Blackpool have made significant progress.

He added: “At the moment we’re recruiting well and developing well. I’ve mentioned it many times, the three pillars – it’s the academy, it’s recruitment and it’s coaching.

“I don’t really like singling out players because if you single out a player you can omit some and I don’t really want to omit anyone.

“If you look at some of our recent recruitment and development – Josh Bowler is improving, Shayne Lavery is improving, Jordan Gabriel is improving.

“From last year’s recruitment, Keshi (Anderson), Jerry (Yates), Marvin (Ekpiteta): these are players who are developing well at the club.

“When I’m asked about what excites me for 2022, it’s that more than anything – it’s really just seeing that development of players.”

Sadler also discussed the process of recruiting a new assistant head coach to replace Stuart McCall, who left for Sheffield United in late November.

Of Yorkshireman McCall, Sadler said: “It was completely understandable given where he lives and past affinities, so there are no hard feelings.

“We definitely need to replace him and finding a replacement is top of the list for things to do early in the year.

“It’s different now to what it was 15 months or so ago, when we brought in Colin Calderwood, because Neil Critchley has got a lot more experience under his belt.

“We’ve got Critch and Mike (Garrity) and the rest of the team, but clearly we need to bring someone else in but we need to make sure we get the right person and it’s the right fit.”