Former Imps Loanee Released By Blackpool

Credit Graham Burrell

Retained lists are where all focus seems to be right now, with clubs more likely to fish in free waters than spend money on a new face.

With that in mind, it’s interesting to note that former loanee Matty Virtue has been released by Blackpool, making him a free agent. Virtue was a player we widely expected to be a key man for the Tangerines this season, but he started just three League One matches, one against us, where he seemed hellbent on getting himself a booking.

However, with Ethan Hamilton’s injury set to rule him out possibly into the new season and Conor McGrandles returning to Charlton, there will doubtless be some who feel Virtue might be a good pick for the Imps. In the 2022/23 season, he added some weight to the midfield, carrying the side prior to Ethan Erhahon’s signing. Injury ruled him out of a chunk of the campaign, but he returned with two goals in as many games against Morecambe and Shrewsbury to sign off in style.

Virtue is still only 26, and represents great value for anyone wanting to add a combative midfielder to their ranks. Had he remained fit in 2022/23 he would have been a contender for player of the season, and he finished the campaign with four goals for us, including one at Bristol City in the League Cup.

Credit Graham Burrell

A product of Liverpool’s academy, Virtue scored 12 goals in over 50 appearances for the Reds’ Under 21 side in the Premier League 2. He had a loan spell with Notts County in 2018, where he made his professional debut at the LNER Stadium in our 2-2 draw, Lee Frecklington’s first game back at the club. He went on to help them into the top seven before returning to Anfield.

After signing a permanent contract at Blackpool in January 2019, Virtue made 70 appearances and was part of the squad that won promotion to the Championship in 2021. He then joined City, starting 26 League One matches for Mark Kennedy’s side. An injury picked up on January 2nd against Ipswich ruled him out until March, but he was still retained by Blackpool last season.

In addition to his three starts for the Tangerines, he came off the bench 22 times but didn’t score. He bagged a single goal all season, coming in the EFL Trophy against Burton Albion.