But former midfielder Southern, part of the legendary Seasiders squad celebrating the 10th anniversary of their promotion to the Premier League, believes Critchley already has a squad to challenge at the top end of the table in 2021/21.

Southern, 39 last week, told The Gazette: “With the squad he’s got, there’s no reason why they can’t challenge next season.

“Even if he didn’t make another signing during the summer, I think with a proper pre-season they’re good enough to be a top-six team.

“There’s some real quality in there, some seasoned League One players, so I think the future is bright.

“I’m sure he will add during the summer. He’ll add a sprinkling to what he’s already got. If he does that, there’s no reason why we can’t be optimistic and envisage another promotion ... but there’s obviously a lot of hard work to be done.”

And academy coach Southern, now back where his career started at Everton, is disappointed at the way Blackpool’s season fell away under his former Seasiders boss Simon Grayson.

Southern added: “It was such a good start to the season. The fans were upbeat and there was a real positive vibe. That was at the end of September but they never really kicked on.

“Early December they beat Fleetwood to go fourth in the league but that’s when they completely went off the rails. Football is like that.”

https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/sport/football/blackpool-fc/keith-southern-blackpool-squad-can-challenge-promotion-next-season-2553278