Blackpool raid could help Derby County replace Ebou Adams or complement him: View

HIGHLIGHTS

  •  Derby County needs to bolster their midfield after losing key players, with Callum Connolly potentially being a strong addition.
  •  Connolly’s versatility in defense and ability to win tackles and aerial duels could help solidify Derby’s backline in the Championship.
  •  Whether playing alongside Ebou Adams or in a different system, Connolly’s skills and potential make him a valuable target for the Rams.

 

A combination of the sale of Max Bird and the expiration of Ebou Adams’ loan has left Derby County’s midfield light ahead of the summer so the Rams should look towards their previous competitors, Blackpool, for new inspiration.

Callum Connolly is a name familiar to those in both the Championship and League One, having spent eight years in the two divisions after beginning his career at Everton. However, the Blackpool midfielder is out of contract at Bloomfield Road at the end of the season and may be looking towards pastures new.

Derby County, after having secured Championship football on the final day of the 2023/24 campaign, are looking to strengthen, particularly in the midfield with 12 players in the ranks still without a contract for the new season, as per TransferMarkt.

Five of those can operate in the centre of the park, with experienced Captain Conor Hourihane and local promotion hero Liam Thompson just two of those that could secure their futures elsewhere.

Alongside the loss of Bird to Bristol City, and the conclusion of Cardiff City’s Adams loan deal, Derby are looking light in numbers. But, with news of Paul Warne’s side preparing a £250,000 bid for Adams, according to Darren Witcoop, Connolly could be the perfect compliment alongside the Bluebirds loanee as well as a potential replacement ain a different system.

Callum Connolly’s seaside stay

After failing to break into Everton’s first team, and a plethora of loan deals to fellow EFL sides including Blackpool’s rivals Fleetwood Town, Connolly joined the Seasiders in June 2021 on a two-year deal with an option of a 12-month extension, as reported by The Blackpool Gazette.

Callum Connolly

The defensive midfielder, who can also operate across the backline, could be the perfect addition to Derby County’s workhorse midfield. The Rams conceded just 37 goals on their way to promotion, with just seven of those occurring with Adams on the pitch.

Connolly could be the one to help keep that rigidness at the back for the Rams in the coming years, after winning 76.5% of his tackles and 67.3% of aerial duels in 21 games for Blackpool, as per FotMob.

The 26-year-old also has age on his side, and with Derby’s average at 28 years, he would help bring longevity to an older squad.

Connolly has failed to be a consistent part of Neil Critchley’s starting side and has featured just once in the league since January 13 but the confidence of a new manager in a new environment could be everything that he needs to push on.

Callum Connolly Blackpool stats (FotMob, 23/24)
Games Played 21
Tackles Won (%) 76.5
Aerial Duels Won (%) 67.3
Duels Won (%) 58.0
Pass Accuracy (%) 72.5

Working alongside Adams or in a defensive trio

The former Toffee is helped by the range of positions he can play in. He has worked his way across the backline for Blackpool in the last few seasons and featured 41 times in their most recent Championship escapades.

The Rams found themselves utilising a 5-3-2 formation for the majority of the 23/24 campaign, and Connolly could fit right in alongside the likes of Eiran Cashin, Curtis Nelson and Sonny Bradley at the back.

League One - Derby County v Carlisle United

But, a change of system in the second tier could be Paul Warne’s way forward. Connolly would be the perfect partner for Adams’ physicality just in front of the defence to create a defiant wall that would be hard to breach.

Connolly could also find himself in the more advanced Bird role if needed, with his frame very similar to that of the new Bristol City man. He would need to add more goals to his game, just like his possible predecessor, but with a whole summer ahead, he would have more than enough time to settle into the side.

He’s a player that the Rams should be looking at – whether or not they’re successful in bringing Adams back to Pride Park.

 

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