After a tough first month back in the Championship, Blackpool have really settled back into second tier football once again and going into the second international break of the season they find themselves in the top half of the table.
It looked like it may be a struggle for Neil Critchley’s side from their opening few results, but since the return of club football in mid-September the Seasiders have only lost once in a 3-0 home drubbing by Huddersfield Town.
But there’s been four wins in that time period with Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers, Barnsley and perhaps most surprisingly Fulham all dispatched by Blackpool to send them rising up the table.
Critchley has quite a big squad to try and keep happy this season, but what has been his best starting 11 players so far this season? Let’s take a look.
A lot of this Blackpool team picks itself with several of the players being regulars in the Championship, although injuries have started to set in and the team could look different when the latest international break is done with.
Chris Maxwell is one of those who now has an issue but he’s started every single Championship game in-between the sticks, as has left-back Luke Garbutt.
Right-back is an area that has strong competition now with Dujon Sterling right now just getting the better of Jordan Gabriel and Callum Connolly – the latter also being able to play at centre-back or in midfield.
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The experienced Richard Keogh has almost been an ever-present but right now it’s one of James Husband or Marvin Ekpiteta who partners him – preference going to Ekpiteta who has relegated Husband to a place on the bench after his recent performances.
Play-off final hero Kenny Dougall has recovered from injury to take his place in the side and he’s set to be partnered in the long-term it seems by Ryan Wintle, a loanee from Cardiff who has been a big part of the winning run.
Things could have been more complicated out wide but with an injury to CJ Hamilton it has meant that Josh Bowler and Keshi Anderson have not had too many challenges in terms of squad rotation – the latter has been surprisingly consistent after only playing 20 times in the league last season.
Perhaps the strongest area of Blackpool’s team is up-front – Tyreece John-Jules was an exciting loan signing from Arsenal but right now the best partnership still could be Jerry Yates, who finally got off the mark this past weekend in the Championship and the summer addition of Northern Ireland’s Shayne Lavery.
He has found the step up to the Championship no issue at all with five league goals already, and there’s another striker in Gary Madine who misses out on this 11 although he could have strong claims that he works best with Lavery as a big man, little man combination instead of Yates being paired with him.
They’re all good options for Blackpool to have though and there could be more progress to come with a relatively young squad and an exciting head coach in Critchley.