It was another successful day for Blackpool in the transfer market with Jamie Devitt departing, and two new signings making their way into Neil Critchley’s squad. Not only that, but two players who have pedigree, with first-hand experience playing in this division and higher. Kenny Dougall was the last player of the summer window to arrive, signing on a two-year deal having been recently released by Championship side Barnsley.
27-year-old Dougall is from Brisbane, Australia, though he is also of Scottish and Thai descent, and made his way into the game with the Queensland Academy before representing both Brisbane Roar and Brisbane City at youth level. Winning the Young Player of the Year award in 2013 for City in 2013, he scored 10 goals in 34 games in his first season, earning himself a move to the Eerste Divisie – Holland’s second tier – with Telstar. He scored once in 29 games for the side, rejecting a new contract and signing for Sparta Rotterdam – in the same division as Telstar – in 2015. Spending three years in Rotterdam, Dougall became a firm fans’ favourite and made 86 appearances, scoring twice.
Then came his move to England in 2018, signing for Barnsley for an undisclosed fee under German Head Coach Daniel Stendel, who had earmarked Dougall as his number one target that summer. He was a virtual ever-present for the Tykes in their promotion-winning season of 2018-19, making 29 appearances, before a broken leg in the March ended his campaign early. In their step up to the Championship he found regular football less frequent to come by, appearing 14 times. His contract had a one-year option but Barnsley decided not to renew.
Described by Barnsley as a deep-lying powerhouse central midfielder, Dougall is expected to provide grit and hard work in midfield. He’ll likely compete with Grant Ward and Matty Virtue for a starting place in the side, playing alongside Ethan Robson and a more attacking option in either Keshi Anderson, Oliver Sarkic or new signing Ben Woodburn.
Barnsley’s site continued: “As well as being brave on the ball and having the composure to beat a man, Dougall has the ability to use both feet comfortably, showing versatility in the heart of midfield.”
Based on his heatmap, you can see that the Aussie likes to take the ball from deep and get into the opposition half. He’s very comfortable with both feet, so will drift into pockets on either side, though typically likes to play on the right – perfect for what we need as it’s where Ward has played so far this season and had indifferent form.
Speaking in his official interview with Blackpool’s media team, Dougall cited the ambition of the club in persuading him to make the move. He also explained that he likes to break up play and get the ball forwards, which is exactly what the side has been crying out for in the early part of the season.
View from the other side
Below are the thoughts of some of the Barnsley fans on social media.
“Fair play. Will be mint for you lot. Reckon Potts had an influence.”
“He’s class pal. Controls the tempo of the game so well and not shy to put in a tackle. You’ve got yourself a class player”
“that’s a very good signing lads will work his legs off every game good luck kenny lad”
“He’ll do a job at that level for you. Never really given much of a chance in the Championship but was quality in out promotion season.”
“Shit hair do, great player. Was very unlucky with us, he was arguably our best player until he got injured and then never really got a proper run of games”
“Excellent signing for Blackpool, personally would never have released him from Barnsley.”
With Grant Ward often drifting out of games and Matty Virtue having persistent injury problems so far this season, we’ve needed some more bite in midfield and Dougall seems to fit the bill. He’ll be more than happy receiving the ball on the half-turn from defence and recycling possession, as well as breaking down opposition attacks. He certainly seems to be a signing who will likely impact the first-team picture when he gets fit. Fitness is the key question mark, given he suffered a broken leg and didn’t get much game time last year, but when we manage to get him up to speed he should have all the attributes to become a real favourite amongst the fanbase.
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