It isn’t often a football club can boast two players for every position on the field, but Danny Cowley’s additions today have ensured that we’ll tackle our congested fixture list with two complete teams of eleven to pick from.
The signings caught me by surprise too, usually I have some advance warning of incomers, but once again DC has snuck in under the radar. Both have been given permission by their parent clubs to play in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, and both are on loan with us until the end of the season.
First up is goalkeeper Ross Etheridge. It could be argued we already had cover in this position, but coach Jimmy Walker would (I’m sure) prefer not to have to put his gloves on again. Etheridge is 22 years old and signs from Doncaster Rovers, where he has made six first team appearances. Fear not though, we haven’t been handed another inexperienced stopper like Elliot Parrish. Etheridge has spent time at Accrington Stanley, making 21 appearances last season before signing for Doncaster. He has turned out for Rovers a couple of times this season, most recently as an 86th minute sub as they beat Portsmouth 3-1.
He’s been on loan at Alfreton for the latter part of this season, and I suspect he will be used sparingly (if at all) over the next few months. I’d imagine Danny has identified the possibility of Farms picking up a knock playing twice a week for eight weeks, and he’s merely covering his bases by bringing in the 6’2 Etheridge.
The other signing finally offers some cover for Sam Habergham at left back, and he is another one Imps fans should be relatively excited about. He’s Riccardo Calder, an Aston Villa player who spent the first six months of this season also at Doncaster, lining up with Etheridge on the opening day of the season. He’s a former England u17 international who hasn’t broken into the first team at Villa Park, but has enjoyed decent loan spells at not only Doncaster, but also Scottish side Dundee. He netted once for Doncaster in an EFL Cup match against Mansfield, and I’d fully expect him to feature before the end of the season, perhaps as soon as Tuesday against York.
Calder in particular is another one of those players that Danny and Nicky seem drawn to. He’s young, has some proper football pedigree but hasn’t yet made the grade at his parent club. Like Ginnelly, Long and Angol he has played in the Football League, experience like that is going to be a big help as we look to see out the final eight or nine weeks of the season.
I often wonder if my own employment is designed purely to find out about our players, I started working in Gainsborough this week, lo and behold I’ve begun to chat regularly to a Doncaster fan who was able to give me some insight into both players! Etheridge he said was a decent enough young keeper, but at the moment just hasn’t displaced Marko Marosi in the sticks. He had seen much more of Calder, I’m informed that he is quick and strong which I expected given DC’s game pattern. He’s no midget standing at six feet tall as well, and he’ll offer an aerial presence defending set pieces. He does get forward, but I’m told he is a little more of cautious full back. In the words of my new Doncaster source: ‘he’s a seven every game’. Now who does that sound like?
I would be incredibly surprised if either player gets a place on the bench for tomorrow. Danny may not be one to bow to sentiment but I imagine the squad will be made up (where possible) of players that have already featured in the cup run. I suspect we’ll go Farman, Wood, Waterfall, Raggett, Habergham, Woodyard, Power, Arnold, Hawkridge, Rhead and Margetts, with an assortment of the others on the bench, not least Adam Marriott. In a perfect world I’d love to see Adam start, purely as a reward for his pass that created out third round winner against Ipswich, but I don’t think it will happen.
Once the showcase game is out of the way though both Calder and Etheridge (to a lesser degree) will be knocking on the door, looking to join in the FA Trophy party and also contribute to some of those challenging looking must-win games we have between now and the start of summer.