Cathcart makes Seasiders switch
Posted by nickogs20 on August 11, 2010
Reds defender Craig Cathcart has joined Premier League newcomers Blackpool for an undisclosed fee.
The Northern Ireland U21 star moves to Bloomfield Road in a deal thought to be worth around £500,000, joining fellow new arrivals Ludovic Sylvestre, Elliot Grandin, Malaury Martin and Marlon Harewood on a busy day of transfer activity for Seasiders boss Ian Holloway. The 21 year-old has penned a three-year deal (with the option of a fourth) and will wear the number 20 shirt this season.
Chris Smalling’s arrival at Old Trafford this summer nudged Cathcart further down the pecking order at centre-back and the Belfast native has clearly decided that the time is right to move on and kickstart his career. “At this stage I need to be playing football matches,” he told Blackpool’s official website. “Hopefully coming here will give me the opportunity to play a lot of first-team games. I haven’t had a cap so far at full international level, so if I’m in the team every week in the Premier League then it is going to be hard for the manager not to look at me and hopefully he will put me in the squad“.
“I think I’ve got a bit of a bargain there, thanks to Fergie,” said Holloway. “He’s been trained by them for the last 5 years and I want to give him the opportunity of playing“.
Cathcart joined the Reds on a scholarship in July 2005, having spent the previous couple of years in the club’s Belfast-based School of Excellence. He impressed immediately for the U18s and made his debut for the Reserves while still 16, his early impact persuading the club to offer him a professional contract on his 17th birthday.
Craig captained the U18s to the FA Youth Cup Final in 2007 and even earned a call-up to the first team bench during a serious defensive injury crisis that season, only for injury to prematurely end his season – something that was to become a familiar story over the next couple of years. After a promising spell on loan with Royal Antwerp in Belgium, the centre-back spent the 2008/09 season on loan at Plymouth Argyle, where he earned Young Player of the Year honours as the Pilgrims stayed in the Championship but missed the run-in with knee ligament damage, the same injury that would curtail his 09/10 campaign in December after a disappointing spell with Watford.
In all the 21 year-old made 31 competitive reserve appearances (3 goals) and 46 for the academy (2 goals), also appearing five times for the first team in pre-season action. Now he should get his chance to play regularly at the highest level, with full honours for his country very likely to follow.
Best of luck to Craig with his new club and future career.