He’s suffered with the Coronavirus and had to drop down a league this season, but Kenny Dougall hasn’t given up his dream of forcing his way into the Australia set-up.
John Davidson

SBS The World Game
29 Jan 2021 - 10:37 AM  UPDATED 29 Jan 2021 - 10:37 AM

Dougall left English Championship club Barnsley and signed for League One’s Blackpool in October.

After a disappointing end to his time in south Yorkshire, the defensive midfielder has proved a hit with the Seasiders.

Dougall has made 15 appearances in the 2020-2021 campaign to date and has been in impressive touch with the Lancashire outfit.

The 27-year-old, who played for the Olyroos in 2015, has been on the cusp of a senior national team debut for several years and was part of the last Socceroos squad that defeated Jordan 1-0 in November 2019.

With Australia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign expected to finally resume in March, the former Brisbane Roar midfielder is hoping for a call-up.

“Definitely. I’m getting older now but it’s still a dream of mine and it hasn’t changed,” he told The World Game.

“I definitely do want to keep pushing for it and if those March games come, if they do come, I’ll be ready waiting for the call.

“Arnold’s said from day one he wants players who are match-fit and playing, so if I can keep playing and playing well then I’ll be in with a shout.”

It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Queenslander of late, however, with Dougall missing Blackpool’s last two games after contracting COVID-19.

“I’m fine. Obviously not everyone is affected the same,” he said. “I’ve got a little bit of a cough and a blocked nose, but with a bit of recovery I’ll be back on the pitch soon. I have a test on Saturday and they check that everything’s gone.

“That will be down to my last day in quarantine and I can crack on as usual. But I’m fine so it’s good news.”

Dougall moved to England in 2018 after four years playing in the Netherlands.

He had a successful spell at Barnsley, despite suffering a broken leg in his first season, but was surprisingly left go by the Tykes in June last year.

“The ending was a bit disappointing,” he admitted. "I was sort of forced out by [former manager Gerhard] Struber, who’s gone now.

"It was just one of those bad vibe things, after the broken leg and the manager lost his job and a new manager comes in… it’s maybe bad timing in that sense.

“But a little disappointing as I didn’t really get a chance after my injury to sort of get a lot of games. But you can’t do much about things like that… It is disappointing that I never got to say goodbye to the Barnsley fans.

“It was a bittersweet ending but that’s just life. I’m happy to kick on again.”

Dougall joined Blackpool four months ago and is enjoying life at Bloomfield Road.

“Obviously the start of the season was a bit up in the air for me, I didn’t sign until late in October,” he said.

“I wanted to keep playing in the Championship but because of everything that happened in the summer and with the virus it didn’t happen.

"I’ve joined Blackpool in League One, and to be honest it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it.

“At the back of last season I wasn’t playing a lot but now I’m happy to be playing again. The gaffer has brought me in and really liked what I’ve done with the team.

“When I came in the results changed immediately, we started to climb the table. I haven’t played the last few days because I’ve got COVID, but I’ve enjoyed being here and the team’s a lot better than what we’ve showed this season. Hopefully we can push on for those playoff spots.”

The Seasiders currently sit in 15th spot in League One, nine points below the playoffs spot. But Dougall believes his club has the squad to go on a run and break into the top six.

“Playoffs is definitely a target,” he said. “The squad itself, before I joined, they struggled at the start of the season results-wise.

"That’s sort of why we’re mid-table at the moment because there is a lot of quality in the squad.

“When we had a little run against all the top teams we beat them all. So there’s definitely confidence in the squad that we can get promoted and that is the goal.

“But we are playing catch-up so we just have to keep winning and sneak into the top six, and once we get into that six we’ll back ourselves to go all the way and get promoted."