I know it’s an honour to represent your country, and I know the Imps players that missed out will be gutted, but from a club perspective I don’t think the game could have gone any better at all.
Initially we had four players called up which I think is a testament to our current squad. Of those players, all of them signed in the last few months which reflects very well on both our current transfer policy, and our reputation as a club that is going places.
In order to go places though we need to win key games, and after a draw against a handy Aldershot side I can only imagine that we will want all three points against Forest Green on Saturday. It’s top against second, perhaps the biggest league game we’ve played since we dropped out of League Two. This is the big one.
If we want to get out of this league, and if we want to protect our reputation as one of the top non-league sides then we could really do with a win against FGR. If we’re going to beat them then we need our players fresh, and to that end I think the England C situation worked really well for us.
Meatloaf once sang ‘Two outta three ain’t bad’, and in this case I think its three out of four ain’t bad. Before I go on to explain I will point out that I know the situation wasn’t our own doing. Danny Cowley encourages his players to get game time and the England C set-up is valued very highly. It was Lincoln City who offered to move a potential cup replay purely so our players could get on the pitch and represent their country. It’s the same positive, player-driven attitude that saw Callum Howe and Alex Simmons in FA Cup first round action last night, instead of cup-tied ‘just in case’. Our management are player focussed, of that there’s no doubt.
However, to get anything at all on Saturday we are going to need to be tight at the back, and the last thing we needed was our two of our defence getting ninety minutes over in Tallinn. I understand both were injured so it isn’t ideal prep in itself, but I’m also glad they’ve had a week to recover, rather than an energy sapping flight and football match. Maybe that’s a little selfish, but if the match had fallen inbetween Woking and Southport I might not have been so concerned. If we’d got Callum Howe on the bench I similarly might not have been concerned. Sam Habergham and Sean Raggett are both top players at this level, and a week of recouping will prove to be a good thing.
Furthermore I don’t think the game could have come at a better time for young Elliot Whitehouse. Since he’s arrived he’s only been seen on occasion, but I suspect his goal will give him a valid shout to feature at some point on Saturday. Theo is full of running but his finishing has been dubious at best, and with a goal and a full match under his belt Whitehouse will be bang on point and ready for an outing Saturday. His appearance on Tuesday was the best thing the Imps could have hoped for.
The only mild negative was another 90 minutes for Alex Woodyard. He’s played 90 minutes in all 22 of our games so far this season, and now another ninety for England C. He’s played Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday on more than one occasion and if (as expected) he features against York and FGR he’ll have to do it again. It’s a packed schedule for a young player, and in an ideal world he wouldn’t have played the full game out in Tallinn.
That said, Woodyard is a proper footballer. He reminds me of a wide eyed youngster who has nothing else on his mind other than a ball and some grass. He’s a nice lad too, unassuming and focussed entirely on playing the game. Maybe I’m being an over-protective observer believing the schedule is punishing on him, but Alex Woodyard is key to everything we’re doing this season. His is the one position where we now struggle to offer adequate cover as well. Before Lee Beevers injury we could drop Brad in midfield and perhaps pair him with Power to give Woodyard a rest if we needed to. Our options are now limited at full back, and tha has repercussions into the midfield.
That’s all you’re going to get now before Friday (probably, unless I do a blog to plug my book, which I might). Tomorrow I’m travelling with my lovely lady to Old Trafford for the Blogging awards, which I’m sure everyone knows by now I am a finalist in. I’ve checked out the blogs I’m up against, one of them has over thirteen thousand Twitter followers!! Whether I win or not is immaterial, the support you guys have given me over the past couple of months has been phenomenal, and just to be at an awards ceremony on behalf of the football club I love is a honour. Thank you.
I’d like to finish today by offering sincere condolences to the friends and family of Imps supporter Collin Morton who sadly passed away yesterday, far too young. I never met Collin but he was a big part of the family we call Lincoln City, an active contributor on Lincoln City Banter and someone who often commented favourably on my blogs. I appreciated his support and he’ll be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, personally or across social media.