Blackpool kick off their return to the Championship with a visit to Bristol City on Saturday.
The Seasiders had an excellent 2021, confirming promotion via the play-offs, whilst Saturday’s opponents have endured a rather painful calendar year thus far.
After a seven-year absence from England’s second-tier, Neil Critchley’s men aim will be to stay in the division, by whatever means.
In preparation for the rigours of Championship football, Blackpool have made nine signings this summer, adding a balance of experience and youthful talent into their ranks.
In this article, we take a look at two dilemmas that Neil Critchley still faces ahead of Saturday’s opener against The Robins…
Ollie Turton’s move to Huddersfield Town and the fact that a deal to bring Jordan Gabriel back to Bloomfield Road is proving too difficult, means that the club are short on right-backs.
Leicester City right-back Mitch Clark spent some time on trial with the club, however, Critchley has since opted out of striking a deal for the 20-year-old.
Callum Connolly, who before pre-season operated as a centre-back or defensive midfielder, has slotted into the seemingly vacant right-back role and has been impressive of late.
However, the club’s only right-back option is a player who is operating out of position.
It seems that Critchley still needs a first-team full-back for the upcoming campaign – someone to provide Connolly with some competition at least.
The squad has not improved since last season’s promotion
It was never going to be easy replacing the likes of Daniel Ballard, Elliot Embleton, Ellis Simms and Jordan Gabriel, but it is something that they should have been aiming to do all summer with the step up to the Championship.
The Seasiders have added quality with Josh Bowler and Tyreece John-Jules arriving at the club, and they have also added Championship experience with Richard Keogh joining, but at this moment in time, it is a team that looks slightly weaker than last season.
There is still time in this window to change that and it will be what Critchley is looking to do in what remains of the transfer window.
However, Blackpool have momentum and have kept a strong core of players, and just because they have a squad that is not experienced at Championship level, it does not mean that they cannot adapt and thrive.