Northern Ireland striker Shayne Lavery returns to English game with Blackpool

Northern Ireland striker Shayne Lavery is back in English football after signing a two-year contract with newly-promoted Championship club Blackpool

The 22-year-old, previously in Everton’s academy, had been hotly tipped for a move back across the Irish Sea after becoming the first player to be named both Ulster Footballer of the Year and Young Player of the Year while helping Linfield to the Irish League title last season.

Lavery, capped seven times by Northern Ireland, scored 47 goals in 77 games for Linfield after leaving Everton in 2019.

He joins Reece James and Daniel Grimshaw to become the third signing of the day at Bloomfield Road as the Seasiders strengthen following their 2-1 League One play-off win over Lincoln.

“I’m very excited,” Lavery said. “Blackpool’s a massive club and I’m glad to get the deal done. I feel like I’ve proved myself back home this season and I’m now looking to test myself at the next level.

“I had mixed emotions last week lifting the league and cup with Linfield, knowing in the back of my head that I’d be moving on, but I’ve loved my time there and I’m very grateful for everything they’ve done for me.

“I’m now joining a Blackpool team that has played well all season, and it was amazing to see them become one of the three teams promoted.”

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley, formerly in charge of Liverpool’s youth teams, said he remembered Lavery from his Everton days.

“At 22, we’re getting somebody who is hungry and ambitious to come and prove himself,” he said. “He’s a very humble individual and his character fits in perfectly with the squad we have here.

“On the pitch, he’ll bring pace, energy and scores different types of goals. We’re all looking forward to working with him.”

Earlier Blackpool confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Grimshaw from Manchester City on a two-year deal, while 27-year-old left-back James will join on a three-year contract when his Doncaster deal expires at the end of the month.

Grimshaw, 23, was involved in the Carabao Cup at City while also spending time on loan at Lommel SK in Belgium last season.

“I’m happy and really excited to be here,” Grimshaw said. I’ve worked really hard in my career to get to this point.

“I want to progress further here at Blackpool. I’m looking forward to working under Neil Critchley and Steve Banks and alongside the goalkeepers that are already here.”

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