Ten potential tangerines for Bloomfield Road.
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Blackpool have been mightily impressive in the Premier League so far – and all the more so when one stops to remember the tiny budget with which their success has been built.
The Tangerines are now in a position where they feel safe enough not to have to panic buy to retain their place in the English top flight, and Ian Holloway deserves enormous credit for the season so far, and the football played to get there.
However, as the season drags on there is an increasing need for squad depth.
In keeping with their small financial base, Blackpool have a fairly thin squad.
Holloway seems assured of his first choice XI, with only eleven players possessing a minimum of league starts.
If Blackpool are to strengthen at all in the January transfer window, they will be looking for players who can challenge that first XI but are available at a low price.
Here are ten potential targets.
1. Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey is a precociously talented young midfield player, but clearly has some work to get back to where he was prior to his serious injury.
The 20 year-old Welshman didn’t achieve the first team football he needed at Nottingham Forest when on loan there earlier in the season because of game cancellations, and could be available on loan.
Blackpool may struggle to pay Ramsey’s wages though, and have already had one bid to share his salary between the clubs rejected, but should Blackpool captain Charlie Adam depart, they may well try again.
2. Josh McEachran
Josh McEachran is a less likely loan option than Ramsey, but if Holloway fails to agree terms with his primary target, they could yet turn to the Chelsea teenager.
McEachran is yet to start a Premier League game, but has been selected from the beginning of two Champions League matches, and his passing proved mightily effective in each.
His wages are unlikely to be a problem at such a tender age, but convincing Chelsea to let a player depart on loan at such a vital stage of his development would be difficult.
3. George Boyd
Peterborough midfielder George Boyd is also an option for Blackpool in the event of Adam’s departure, and would also be a cost effective solution.
The 25 year-old tends to play a bit further forward than his Tangerines counterpart, and is also capable of playing as a winger.
Possessing wonderful technical ability, Boyd’s weaknesses are his heading and that he fails to track back, but given the correct role for Blackpool he could be a great asset.
4. Bradley Wright-Phillips
Scorer of 13 goals in 17 league games this season, Bradley Wright-Phillips was on the verge of a move to Reading earlire this month.
The £300,000 move fell through due to an unresolved injury problem, leading Blackpool to reopen tentative enquiries about the issue. Having had an offer of £30,000 rejected themselves in the first place, Holloway will have to significantly up his offer if Wright-Phillips is to move to Bloomfield Road, while the player himself would have to make an enormous step up in quality from League One.
5. Danny Shittu
Danny Shittu has made a number of top flight appearances over the years for the likes of Watford and Bolton Wanderers. He also played for Blackpool for a spell on loan in 2001.
His signing would offer decent cover in central defence.
Shittu moved to Millwall in October 2010, but has reportedly failed to settle, and the offer of another shot at top flight football could certainly help swing the player’s interest.
6. Jonathan Woodgate
Few can dispute the quality of Jonathan Woodgate, but such have been the extent of his injury woes that Harry Redknapp feared for his career.
“Will he play again this season? There is no real chance,” said the Tottenham Hotspur manager.
However, surgery on Woodgate’s groin in Australia went well, and he now just needs match practice to get back to his best.
Redknapp has suggested a loan move may be accepted, but could it be Blackpool that take up the offer?
Perhaps if Spurs help out with wages.
7. Adam Hammill
Barnsley winger Adam Hammill has a minimum fee release clause in his contract of £500,000 – well within Blackpool’s range.
The former Liverpool player would offer pace and penetration to the Blackpool attack, and could fit in well as either wide option in the Blackpool front three.
The Tangerines have competition to secure Hammill’s signature though, with Wolverhampton Wanderers preparing a bid.
8. Luke Varney
Loan star Luke Varney has been quite impressive for Blackpool this season, with Ian Holloway claiming a deal can be done for £250,000 in the January transfer window. Derby deny this though, which complicates matters.
One problem for Blackpool if they have no clause in the deal is that Varney has indisputably raised his own valuation by performing well in the Premier League.
If it can be resolved though, Blackpool would have a handy player on their hands for the long term, rather than just the immediate future.
9. Valter Birsa
Auxerre midfielder Valter Birsa is a talented and cultured footballer from Slovenia with 43 caps, scoring in the 2010 World Cup against the USA.
Linked with Liverpool in the summer, Birsa now appears more likely to receive an offer from Bloomfield Road, and they could certainly use his international experience.
The price tag may be an issue though, as Birsa’s contract doesn’t expire any time soon, and Blackpool could expect to pay upwards of £5m.
10. Leigh Griffiths
Dundee striker Leigh Griffiths has scored 21 goals in 46 appearances for his club, and happens to be available on a free transfer.
This has been a particular source of frustration for Dundee, for Wolves submitted a £150,000 bid, which was rejected by the SFL due to the transfer embargo currently in place.
Griffiths is now on trial at Molineux, but is keeping his options very much open, and the prospect of more playing time at Blackpool may convince him to move to Bloomfield Road.
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