FORMER Oxford United manager Michael Appleton is the new head coach of Sky Bet Championship side Blackpool.

The 46-year-old returns to Bloomfield Road for a second spell, signing a contract until June 2026.

Appleton left Lincoln City at the end of last season after a 17th-placed finish in Sky Bet League One.

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The former U’s boss led the Imps to the third-tier play-off final in 2020/21, losing to Blackpool at Wembley, and he is excited to take charge of a team who ended last term 16th in the Championship.

“I am absolutely delighted to be here. To be able to come back to the club, with where the club is at during this moment in time, after two really successful seasons, I can’t wait to get started,” he told the Seasiders’ official website.

“This club now feels like the right club at the right time.

“The fans will certainly have seen glimpses of what I tried to do in my days at Lincoln.

“I want to play aggressive, forward-thinking football and we have certain things that we want from the players when we’re playing, dependent on opposition clearly.

“We just want to be exciting and get people off their seats.”

Appleton took charge of Blackpool for 13 games between November 2012 and January 2013, but his first successful spell in management came at United.

The former player arrived in July 2014 following a takeover by Darryl Eales and Mark Ashton but started slowly as the U’s found themselves at the wrong end of the Sky Bet League Two table.

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They recovered to finish 13th in 2014/15, before Appleton guided United to promotion, an Emirates FA Cup win over Premier League Swansea City and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final the following season.

The U’s finished eighth in League One in 2016/17, again reaching the final of the Trophy, while they pushed Middlesbrough all the way in the FA Cup fifth round.

Appleton left United in June 2017 to become assistant manager of Leicester City.