What business do Blackpool need to do during the January transfer window?

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By the time you’re tucking into your turkey sandwiches from your Christmas Day leftovers, the January transfer window will almost be upon us.

 

Given the recent developments across the country – which might well have changed by the time you’re reading this – this is likely to be a window like no other.

Doing good business in January is notoriously difficult at the best of times as clubs are understandably reluctant to lose their brightest talent midway through a season.

But with the Premier League and the EFL vowing to play on despite the recent disruption caused by the spread of Covid, prising players away from other clubs could be more troublesome than ever.

Even if they’ve been hit by a Covid outbreak, clubs have been told they must fulfil a fixture if they have 13 players available plus a goalkeeper.

That means every single member of the 25-man squad, plus the Under-21s who don’t have to be registered, could be called upon at any time, regardless of how rarely they’ve been utilised up to this point.

The first name that springs to mind is Ellis Simms. When everyone is fit and healthy at Everton, the 20-year-old is probably third or fourth choice at best.

Neil Critchley will want to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window

Neil Critchley will want to strengthen his squad during the January transfer window

But as we saw against Chelsea last week, the former Pool loanee was called upon and handed his first start following an injury blow to Richarlison, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains sidelined and Salomon Rondon struggles for form.

The Seasiders are keen to bring Simms back on loan – and why wouldn’t they be? – but whether or not he will be available is another matter. It could well be a case of waiting for Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin to make their returns later in the month before Simms is permitted to leave.

Given Blackpool’s troubles in front of goal this season – they’ve still only found the back of the net 23 times in 23 games this season – adding another striker to the books is likely to be a big priority for the club next month.

One would expect Tyreece John-Jules to return to Arsenal given he’s not made an appearance since mid-October. When he did play, he didn’t exactly set the world alight, either.

If a move for Simms can’t be done, I’m sure the Seasiders will have other targets in mind.

Given the injury problems for Matty Virtue, Kevin Stewart and Grant Ward, a central midfielder has also got to be on Blackpool’s shopping list too.

Kenny Dougall and Ryan Wintle have performed well in the middle of the park, but asking them to play almost every minute of every game is a big ask, so another body or two will be required.

Jeando Fuchs, of Scottish side Dundee United, is a name that continues to be linked with Neil Critchley’s side.

Whether the 24-year-old makes the move to Bloomfield Road or not, it’s someone in Fuchs’ mould – a combative, high energy midfielder – that Blackpool need.

As for Wintle, the Seasiders will be keeping their fingers and toes crossed that his parent club Cardiff City don’t recall him in January.

The 24-year-old is a vital cog in Blackpool’s wheel and it would be a huge shame to lose him midway through the season, as Cardiff are permitted to do as per the terms of the loan agreement.

Elsewhere, while Josh Bowler was back to his best with two assists during Saturday’s crucial win against Peterborough United, Pool could still do with another right-winger that guarantees an end product on a regular basis.

There’s no doubting Bowler’s talent, the way he dribbles past players with ease is a sight to behold. But prior to Saturday, the former Everton man had only produced one assist in 22 games. Given how much emphasis the Seasiders put on their wide men to produce chances and goals, that simply has to change.

Demetri Mitchell and Owen Dale have also flattered to deceive at times this season, while CJ Hamilton is still working his way back to full fitness after going under the knife for the second time this year.

While Dale made an ideal start to his Blackpool career with a goal on his debut at Reading, it’s fair to say his displays since then have been mixed.

But, despite recent speculation, I would still expect to see his loan move from Crewe Alexandra made into a permanent one as per the initial agreement.

The club see the 23-year-old as a long-term project and would much rather invest their time and energy in a player that genuinely wants to be at the club rather than splurge big wages on a Premier League loanee who will be gone in four months’ time.

As for outgoings, it was interesting to hear recently departed assistant Stuart McCall revealing how he expects Blackpool to move on a few players in January as he feels the squad is a bit top heavy.

There are players like Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic and Joe Nuttall who aren’t even registered in the squad and will need to depart if they’re going to get any game time.

Rob Apter is an exciting player for the future, but it’s expected he will be loaned out for the second time this season to further his development and a fruitful spell with Jamie Milligan and John Hills at Bamber Bridge.

The diminutive 18-year-old has been on trial with Scottish side Livingston in recent days, which would certainly represent a big step up for Apter. But that move is not yet set in stone.

Then there’s always the potential for a surprise bid or enquiry for Blackpool’s better players, but fingers crossed that’s not the case.