The Imps face a break in the league for a week or so now with an FA Cup qualifying visit from Guiseley to turn our attention to this coming weekend.
I saw some debate on social media over whether this was a game to play a full strength side in, or an opportunity to give some fringe players a run out. There are a couple of ways to look at it if you’re manager Danny Cowley.
I’d imagine first and foremost the prestige of a cup run would be most welcomed, and the income certainly would be. I can’t imagine a deviation too far from our strongest eleven will be in his mind. Don’t expect to see Jack Fixter or Richard Walton starting the game.
I think some people have seen the opposition and immediately under estimated them. They were the leagues bottom team until their win this weekend and even their run of two wins were over fellow strugglers York and Southport. To come and beat the Imps they will have to really be on their game. However for Lincoln the same applies, there won’t be any complacency.
Perhaps Danny Cowley will also be wanting revenge for the shameful scenes from last season where Guiseley scored a freak goal from a drop ball and then refused to return the favour. In the grand scheme of things it didn’t cost Braintree anything, but at the time Danny called it one of the worst things he’d seen in football.
I can’t see the game being taken lightly at all, but there will also be one eye on the following Tuesday night and the visit of Boreham Wood after our big match against Eastleigh. Neither game will be a walk in the park, and four points would be a good return. Will the Danny want to carefully manage some of his big players?
Another interesting dimension is which of our loan players will be cup tied and which will be allowed to play. I would think that Colchester will probably want Macauley Bonne to be available, and that may force our hand up front. It would seem a good game to give Theo Robinson a start. There has been talk of him not wanting to be cup tied, but I would expect he’ll be with us until January at the least, and by then a majority of his prospective employers will probably be out of the competition.
Harry Anderson is another loan player who may not be able to play. I would expect he will be available, but whether he is rested or not is a different question. I can’t imagine Barnet will be too fussed if Tom Champion is cup tied, similarly I can’t see Lincoln being too fussed if he isn’t.
If any players should be called on this weekend I’d like to see Power and Hawkridge utilised against Guiseley. I’m not going to speak about Alan Power too much as I think I’ve covered him adequately elsewhere today. Similarly Terry Hawkridge could have an impact and it will save the legs of either Nathan Arnold or Harry Anderson for those tough league matches.
I’m wondering if we might see a recall for Eliott Hodge or Alex Simmons as well. With a couple of players carrying injuries it would seem a sensible move to bring some of our younger talent back into the fold, and both have had good loan spells from what I hear. Of the two I think maybe Simmons is more likely to come back bearing in mind Marriott’s injury and the potential for Bonne not to take part.
I can’t see DC playing a weaker side, but given the quality in our squad a ‘weaker’ side is arguably a strong side anyway. Would playing a man with over 200 Imps appearances really weaken the side? Of course not.
I think the biggest question mark will be over how to utilise Matt Rhead. The big man has had a frenetic and physical start to the season and I can’t see him finishing three games in a week. Without an obvious target man to replace him we would have to look at a plan B, and that could be Theo Robinson and Jack Muldoon starting as an unfamiliar pairing in the cup.
Whatever we choose t do I feel we will have too much for Guiseley, and that isn’t under estimating their change in fortune at all. It won’t be an easy ride, there will be no repeat of our North Ferriby result, but I think in a weeks time we’ll be in the draw for the first round. I sincerely hope that Lincoln United are there too so we can finally have a competitive Lincoln derby that would be such a massive boost for sport in the city.
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