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Opposition Lowdown: Michael Appleton’s Blackpool

Reading’s 2022/23 campaign kicks off this Saturday with the Royals travelling north to the seaside town of Blackpool. Join us as we take a look at the men from Bloomfield Road.

Reading v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images


Blackpool finished the 2021/22 season in 16th place in their first season back in the Championship, having gained promotion through the playoffs in the previous campaign. The Tangerines have had a mixed preseason, losing to Leeds United, Rangers and Everton but recording wins against lower-league teams Southport, Salford City and AFC Fylde.

The boss

Michael Appleton: Blackpool were dealt a blow in early June when manager Neil Critchley left the club to join Aston Villa as Steven Gerrard’s assistant, replacing Michael Beale, who took over as the manager of QPR.

Critchley’s replacement was a familiar face – with Michael Appleton signing a four-year deal for his second stint with Blackpool (the first lasted 65 days before he moved to Blackburn Rovers). Appleton, who joined after three seasons at Lincoln City – the team Blackpool beat in the playoffs to secure their return to the Championship – wants his team to play “aggressive, forward-thinking football”.


Blackpool have bolstered their squad with four signings from Premier League clubs this summer. Manchester City midfielder Lewis Fiorini was first in the door, closely followed by Liverpool defender Rhys Williams, with both players joining on season-long loan deals. This week also saw Brentford defender Dominic Thompson sign permanently with The Tangerines and forward Theo Corbeanu signing on a season-long loan from Wolves.

Defenders James Husband and Jordan Gabriel are both expected to miss this weekend’s game with hamstring injuries, while Kevin Stewart and Jake Beesley are both out with foot injuries.

Expected line-up

Grimshaw, Connolly, Keogh, Williams, Garbutt, Fiorini, Dougall, Anderson, Bowler, Yates, Madine

Key player

Jerry Yates: Striker Yates signed from Rotherham United in July 2020 and was Blackpool’s top scorer in their promotion season, scoring 21 goals in League One. He coped well with the step-up to the Championship, scoring eight goals, two of which were against Reading in our 2-3 home defeat back in October last year. Yates is a hard working striker who can also play on the wing, known for his dribbling and finishing.

One to watch

Josh Bowler: Winger Bowler signed for Blackpool in the summer of 2021, joining from Premier League club Everton. He’s a tricky winger who loves running at defenders and cutting inside. The 23-year-old had a strong season in the Championship last year, scoring eight goals and claiming three assists.