New Blackpool sporting director David Downes has outlined his plans for the club as he begins his new role, as he discussed those plans with The Blackpool Gazette.
The Seasiders have returned to League One following their relegation from the Championship last season and will be targeting an immediate return. The club have begun an overhaul of their squad and staff as part of their transition to the third tier, and part of that was the arrival of sporting director David Downes, who left the head of recruitment role with Sheffield Wednesday.
The side have also begun to bring in new signings for the squad, with four signings, including Albie Morgan and Matthew Pennington, but Downes has outlined his plans for the academy and how he plans to utilise them. The former Aston Villa man has said he hopes to give youngsters a chance with the club and offer them opportunities to work themselves into the first team at Bloomfield Road.
Downes joins another new arrival at Bloomfield Road, with Neil Critchley appointed as the new head coach in May. However, Critchley’s stint with the Seasiders could be over just as soon as it began, with news emerging this morning that Steven Gerrard wants to bring the former Crewe man to join him in his new role in Saudi Arabia.
And Downes has shown his willingness to utilise young talent already, with the club giving minutes to prospects as they began their pre-season with a fixture against Southport. One of those prospects, Brad Holmes, got himself on the scoresheet in that fixture, and it will be interesting to see how many more youngsters receive an opportunity as they move on to Ireland to continue pre-season.
“The academy is my background and something I believe in quite passionately. Young players need the opportunity and clubs can always relate to one of their own.
“If we need a left back, the first port of call is internal, we can try and fill that position rather than trying to outsource all the time. That’s what we’ve got to strive for.”
It is good to see a club know it needs its youth players. The players can establish a genuine connection to the club more often than not, and that can offer them an incentive to play to a higher level to earn the chance to represent their club. Downes knowing the youth players are just as important could be vital to their success and save them money by not having to spend as much in the transfer market.