Where Next for Ryan Hardie?

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BLACKPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Blackpool's Ryan Hardie during the Leasing.com Trophy Second Round match between Blackpool and Scunthorpe United at Bloomfield Road on November 27, 2019 in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Ryan Hardie looks to have the option of playing League One football next season. Although at which club, remains to be seen.

Where Next for Ryan Hardie?

High Hopes for Hardie

Last July saw Hardie – who is a striker – make the move from Scotland to the English Football League.

He opted to join Blackpool, having spent six years at Rangers. However, his move did not turn out to be the success that many had predicted. In 12 games, he scored just once.

This was one less goal than he managed for Rangers during 17 appearances. However, he had enjoyed considerable success in loan spells away from Ibrox. He was a regular scorer for Raith Rovers, St. Mirren and Livingston. Hardie is also a former Scotland Under-21 international.

Last summer saw Blackpool undertake a period of rapid change. The club was under new ownership, thereby leading to Simon Grayson‘s re-appointment as their manager.

However, their previous manager Terry McPhillips, had already begun signing players for the 2019/20 season. This led to a larger than expected squad. The January transfer window brought yet more change with over 20 players either joining or leaving the Seasiders.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Hardie had yet to establish himself as a first-team regular at Blackpool. He made just seven starts and further five substitute appearances. He scored just once – this was against Morecambe in the Football League Trophy.

His last appearance for Blackpool came in the same competition on November 27. It was a home tie against Scunthorpe United, which Blackpool lost 3-1, thereby eliminating them from the competition.

New Beginnings

In January 2020, Blackpool agreed to allow Hardie to join Plymouth Argyle on loan until the end of the 2019/20 season. This proved an astute signing, for Hardie scored 7 goals in 13 league appearances. His goals helped Plymouth gain promotion to League 1.

Unsurprisingly, Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe is keen to bring Hardie back to the Devon club.  In an interview with the Plymouth Herald, Lowe also spoke about the prospect of George Cooper re-joining from Peterborough United.

Lowe confirmed: “George Cooper, we would like to potentially do something with him, but there are the finances and everything else that comes with it.

“Ryan Hardie is the same, but I think we have got to respect their clubs. They will go back probably pre-season.

“If they can’t get in their team, and managers change or whatever it may be, then they could be an option.”

Under Contract

When Blackpool signed Hardie, they gave him a two-year contract with an option of a third year. This means that he remains under contract at Bloomfield Road for next season.

At the time, Grayson gave an enthusiastic interview to the Blackpool website in regard to his new signing.

“The club has been monitoring Ryan’s progress for some time,” said Grayson.

“We’re getting him at the right age and have beaten some competition for his signature.”

However, it was also Grayson who allowed Hardie to join Plymouth on loan.

Soon after Hardie’s departure, Grayson followed. He was sacked in February and was later replaced by Neil Critchley.

Whether Hardie will become part of Critchley’s plans is unclear. However, it would seem unlikely that Blackpool will loan a player to their divisional rivals. This could mean that Hardie will only return to Plymouth, if Argyle agree a permanent transfer.

Although Blackpool did not disclose the transfer fee they paid Rangers for Hardie, it is also likely that they might seek to recoup this fee.

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