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Blackpool FC Retained List: Who Leaves Bloomfield Road?

Fans eagerly look forward to the retained list come the end of the season. Whether it be to find out if their least favourite player will be leaving the club, if talks with their favourite have commenced, or whether their bright, young players will be kept at the club for another season.

For Blackpool, this is no different. After a disappointing end to the season, fans were calling for the deadwood to be trimmed, and that has certainly been the case following the release of the retained list. Here we take a look at who will be leaving Bloomfield Road, and whether Blackpool will miss them going forward.

Youth Prospects

First of all, let’s take a look at the youth prospects that are being released. There are no big misses here, with the only youngster with any chance of some first team action next season being Rob Apter.

Third-choice goalkeeper Mackenzie Chapman leaves the club after just one season without an appearance, along with Dannen Francis, Donovan Lescott, Will Squires and Taty Trusty.

The only two names of note left regarding youth players are Brad Holmes and Luke Mariette. Holmes made 5 appearances in the 2020-21 season for Blackpool in League One, whilst Luke Mariette has only made one senior appearance, coming on as a substitute away against Peterborough in The Championship, and impressed despite The Seasiders going on to lose 5-0.

So far, Blackpool fans cannot be too upset with the list, with the likes of Rob Apter staying, and some youngsters who never really had a chance of making the first team being let go.

Callum Connolly

One that will certainly divide opinion amongst Blackpool fans, is the decision to let Callum Connolly leave.

Connolly has always been a hard one to judge with Blackpool fans. At times, he has performed wonderfully, across a few positions, such as right back, central defender, and midfield.

But, therein lies the issue with Connolly and the fans. Due to him constantly being played out of position, a lot of his performances were very shaky resulting in him making a lot of mistakes, which, more often than not, ended up with Blackpool conceding.

Connolly leaves The Seasiders after making 92 appearances and scoring 3 goals, with his most memorable being an opening day decider in a 1-0 victory against Reading in 2022.

Whilst his versatility helped Blackpool during an injury crisis or when a few players were out of form, he could never really cement a starting position in any area of the pitch, which is why many Blackpool fans will be happy to see him go.

Marvin Ekpiteta

Perhaps the one Blackpool fans will miss the most, is the departure of central defender Marvin Ekpiteta.

The player who played the majority of his career in non-league, before a move to Leyton Orient. After a promotion winning campaign in his second season, Ekpiteta managed just 32 appearances in all competitions in his debut season in the football league.

Despite this, Blackpool took a risk and signed him for the 2020-21 season. Despite a shaky start to the season, and being at fault for more than one of the goals Blackpool conceded at the start of the season, Ekpiteta grew into the squad and looked more and more confident each week.

He scored his first goal for the club in a 5-0 demolition of Wigan Athletic, as he helped Blackpool achieve promotion into The Championship.

In the 2021-22 season, Ekpiteta formed a brilliant partnership with fellow defender Richard Keogh, as the pair helped guide Blackpool to safety in their first season back in The Championship, whilst scoring 5 goals in his 40 league appearances.

His performances throughout the season also earned him two end of season awards, Player of the Season as voted for by fans, and Player of the Season as voted for by his fellow teammates.

Ekpiteta then lost some form going into the next season, which is understandable considering how Blackpool struggled throughout the season, before being relegated come May.

Olly Casey was then preferred in League One, with Ekpiteta making mistakes early on in the season, and it is this run of form that may have allowed the club to let him go.

Despite a less than impressive final season, fans will remember Ekpiteta for a long time to come, remembered for his promotion campaign and his impressive season in The Championship.

Shayne Lavery

Another surprising departure is the Northern Ireland international, Shayne Lavery. He signed from Northern Irish side Linfield in 2021 after scoring 23 goals in 31 league appearances, in preparation for Blackpool’s first season back in The Championship.

He introduced himself to his new fans with a debut goal as well, coming off the bench to score the equaliser in a 1-1 draw away against Bristol City on the first game of the season.

Lavery only returned 10 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions in his debut season, but never really started many games, yet still impressed with his constant pressing and tireless attitude on the pitch.

His next season was even less fruitful. After making just 30 appearances in all competitions this time, Lavery only returned 2 goals, with both coming in the league.

After dropping down with Blackpool into League One, and the sale of Jerry Yates, Lavery was finally the focal point upfront, and he repaid the faith of Blackpool, with an opening day brace against Burton Albion.

The way he led the line indicated that Blackpool, and Lavery, were in for a very good season. However, it was not to be for Lavery. After making 31 league appearances, and returning just 5 goals, Blackpool looked elsewhere for goals, and Lavery met his fate come the end of the season.

It brings an end to his less than fruitful Blackpool career. What could have turned out to be a shrewd signing ended up bordering on a disaster. Some fans may be glad to see the last of him now.

Matty Virtue

The last player to find himself without a club is Matty Virtue. One of Blackpool’s longest serving players has finally had his time at the club ended.

The former Liverpool youngster moved to Blackpool in 2019 after his contract at Liverpool came to an end.

In his first season, Virtue managed 13 appearances in League One, scoring 3 goals in the process, and impressed fans with his desire to get forward, and his passing range.

The season after, Virtue found himself getting more game time, managing 24 appearances and returning 2 goals this time.

The only thing stopping Virtue in these few seasons were his injuries. Constantly finding himself out for months at a time stopped his progress as a player on more than one occasion.

Whilst not one of the first names the fans will remember in years to come, he has scored some iconic goals for the club.

Not a thumping effort away against Sunderland in the first few minutes of the game, or his thumping effort against Bradford City away from home, his most important goal came in 2019.

After the news surfaced that Owen Oyston had lost control of the club, the fans all bought tickets for Accrington Stanley, to mark the end of their boycott.

The away fans nearly outsold the home fans, as they were made to wait for a Jay Spearing penalty in the 81st minute to win the game, but the first goal scored post-Oyston era, was a finely placed effort from Matty Virtue just 5 minutes in.

More and more injuries hampered his time at Blackpool, resulting in him losing his spot in the starting 11. He did get a chance to impress against this season back in League One, which he did, but Blackpool decided to call time on his career at Blackpool.

It is a sad day to see any player leave your football club, let alone servants like Matty Virtue and Marvin Ekpiteta. Blackpool may miss the defensive monstrosity that Ekpiteta could be on his day or the versatility of Callum Connolly, but it is time for a new group of players to come in and write their own history.

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