Deadline Day this year was more about outgoings than incomings as Blackpool let go of four players, but managed to bring in a loanee from fellow League One club Sunderland. Here, I take a closer look at Blackpool’s new loan signing Elliot Embleton and suggest some reasons why he might have been allowed to leave Sunderland to develop further after just signing a new contract extension keeping him with the Black Cats until 2022.
The midfielder was born in Durham and has played for England from U17 through to U20 level. Now 21, the midfielder will want to start making an impact to really kick on with his career as he moves into his peak years. He has so far made 14 senior appearances at his hometown club, as well as a loan spell with Grimsby Town in 2018-19 where he scored three goals in 28 games.
A versatile midfielder, Embleton typically plays as a number 10 but can also play in midfield as well as on either flank. Renowned for his set-pieces and long range shooting, he will offer us another attacking outlet and potentially something a bit different in the final third.
Loan from Sunderland
Having made 12 appearances so far for Sunderland this season, Embleton has been allowed to move to a promotion-chasing rival which has clearly caused confusion amongst Black Cat fans. So why has he been allowed to go? He’s struggled for fitness in the last couple of seasons, since initially getting his chance in the side. Since he regained fitness, he’s not been able to break into the starting line up and therefore has been allowed to come and play some regular games.
He can shoot with both feet and looks tidy from the outside of the box, something I think Blackpool have missed since Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall left last season.
View from the other side
We spoke to the Roker Report, to get their view on Embleton and find out why he can’t get into their current lineup.
They said: “Yeah canny player, just had a lot of injuries and can’t get a run of games. Two footed, good on set pieces – really talented.
“He can play anywhere. CM, RM, LM, CAM… he’s small and technically gifted. He can’t get in the team due to a few reasons, main one being he’s struggled to stay fit for the last two seasons.
“He’s fit now like but he’s down the pecking order.”
Chance of a purchase?
When it comes to loan signings, the next consideration always becomes whether the move can be made permanent. The omens don’t look good for this one, given Embleton signed a new long-term deal upon joining us on loan.
Sunderland Sporting Director of Sunderland Kristjaan Speakman said: “We have a clear plan for his progression and felt that under Neil, Blackpool was a great chance for him to gain more experience at this level in a different environment.”
Being cynical, one could suggest that the contract extension is to guarantee a good fee if he plays well with us and we want to make it permanent. Depending on how well he plays for us will depend whether the club makes an offer, but clearly Critchley prefers to develop his own players rather than others’ so it’s likely that he feels there is a chance of him joining permanently. Otherwise, it may be that he’s a stop-gap to get us through to the summer where we sign a longer term player.
Embleton is a classic Critchley signing – capable of playing in multiple positions, he will add versatility to the squad. He also joins at the age of 23, with a desire to prove his quality and fitness for a regular period of time. It won’t be easy for him to break into the side and he may find himself out wide initially as we tend to play 4-4-2, but he can also fill in for Keshi Anderson who’s likely to be out for the rest of the season – playing in behind a sole striker.
The signing has gone under the radar slightly, because signing a loan player from a divisional rival doesn’t exactly make major headlines. But remember the likes of DJ Campbell and Stephen Dobbie made similar moves, while Jason Puncheon and Luke Varney also made temporary moves from lower divisions! He adds some quality to our forward line and his set pieces may win us some points when it comes to tight games with fine margins. It’s a stellar signing from Critchley and the recruitment team, and Embleton may well go on to become a regular starter for us.
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