Continuing my look at the players we’ve had on loan this season, and what the chances are of seeing them in Lincoln City shirts next season.
9 (8) Apps, 0 Goals
After signing from Burnley ahead of our FA Cup tie, Josh showed himself to be a real uncut diamond. There’s no doubting his trickery and skills, and he clearly frightened the living daylights out of the slower full backs he faced.
Josh isn’t the complete package as yet, but then again if he was he wouldn’t be in the National League. Some of his decision-making was ambitious to say the least, and he needs to work on his end product. Some said the same of Terry Hawkridge last season and look at how he has come on. Josh may be an unpolished diamond, but Danny and Nicky have the right sort of cloths and chemicals to really bring out the shine.
What I really did like about Josh was how he embraced our football club as his own. He didn’t come in as some distant loan signing like Tom Champion, he came in and immediately became an Imp. He was put in a really difficult position when we drew Burnley on the same day he signed for the club, but both Danny Cowley and the player himself dealt with it sensibly and with dignity
He did play an important role in our final run in, offering options for tiring legs and giving us a real injection of pace as games drew to a close. In games against Chester and Bromley when we needed something different to shake the game up, he came on and gave us an alternative approach. He didn’t have goals or many assists to back up his contribution, but anyone who watched the games knows how he affected them. He draws defenders out, he takes them on and he can buy time as he strides into the corner. He’s still a young man and I have no doubt at all he will go on to make a good Football League player.
Will he reappear at Lincoln next season? As much as we’d like to see him here permanently I think it is unlikely. Burnley have him on a three-year deal running from August 2015, so he isn’t going to be out of contract. If he is deemed surplus to requirements then perhaps he could pitch up at Lincoln, but I doubt they’ll cut him loose early. The more likely option would be a season long loan, and that is something I wouldn’t rule out. I think we forged good relationships with the clubs we met in the FA Cup and Burnley may see his best course of development playing for us in League Two.
10 (6) Apps, 1 Goal
Billy had just four months in a City shirt, and as his stay progressed it became clear we were dealing with a superb footballer. He has England youth honours, and as a youngster played for West Ham, Chelsea and Sunderland. His pedigree was one thing, but it means nothing unless you can do it every week.
Billy is an interesting character who has been through quite a journey to arrive at Lincoln. His promising youth career was cut short by ‘an incident’ at Chelsea for which he was dismissed. You’ll find no further details of it, both Chelsea and Knott signed a non-disclosure agreement when he left. He joined up with Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland, and the controversial boss took a shine to the young Knott. I suspect that the ‘free spirited’ Di Canio liked the skilful approach that Knott brought to the game, and it was the Italian that gave him his 2013 Premier League debut as a substitute against Spurs.
He departed Sunderland for Valley Parade in 2014, making 79 appearances for Bradford before moving closing to home with Gillingham. That move proved to be unsuccessful as manager Justin Edinburgh left, and Adi Pennock couldn’t find a place for his prodigal talent. It was this February when he made the surprise move to City on loan.
He made ten starts in total for us with a further six appearances from the bench, and in each one he grew in stature, possibly due to gaining fitness and picking up the Cowley method. His most telling contribution was the only goal of the game against Bromley early in April, a result the sparked the seven game winning run that brought home the title. He featured in every one of those seven games in some way or another as well.
Billy is a ‘footballers footballer’, a player who reads the game superbly and has the ability to pick a pass that others can’t spot. At times he looked a cut above the league he was playing in, and his potential was clear by the time the curtain came down on the season. What does the future hold for Billy Knott? I sincerely hope it holds a permanent spell in Lincoln City colours. He is contracted to Gillingham for another season, but whether Adrian Pennock deems him surplus to requirements or not is something else entirely.
I can’t help think once Billy Knott is fit and firing on al cylinders he is far too good for League Two, and if we did manage to tempt him to Sincil Bank we’d be pulling of a major coup.
15 (4) Apps, 0 Goals
Sean was brought in from Reading to provide valuable cover for Bradley Wood at full-back, and such was his impact that by the end of the season he and Brad were interchangeable. He made his debut in the impressive 3-1 FA Trophy win against Gateshead, and went on to nineteen appearances either as a starter or from the bench.
Sean is a dependable defensive full-back, perhaps not as marauding or blood-curdling as Bradley, but still assured and competent. He looked to have the potential to be a ‘steady seven’, although perhaps breaking into the Reading first team might be a step too far.
It was a Sean Long cross that flicked up onto the hand of Manny Smith in the Easter Monday game at Gateshead that brought the penalty for the Lincoln equaliser, giving him a key role in the story of the season. Other than that he was a competent and steady replacement for Bradley Wood when called upon. Sean is another player facing an important summer. He is more than able to play League Two football, that much was evident from his outings with Lincoln.
I believe he is out of contract in the summer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t offered a deal by Lincoln. He does seem to be surplus to requirements at the Madjeski, and I think there might be a need for us to have cover at right back.
7 (4) Apps, 5 Goals
Jonny gave us one of the more interesting stories of the season. After a successful trial he signed for a year at the end of July, but by the end of August he was gone. Before he went he bagged five goals in seven games, including a memorable four against Southport at home. That scoring form caught the eye of Scunthorpe United, and they swooped in to take him away before our title challenge had really gotten underway.
As we climbed to the top of the league and started on our FA Cup run, Jonny sat on the Scunthorpe bench or even in the stands. He was a visitor to the bank as we turned over Braintree and rumours wouldn’t go away of a return to Sincil Bank.
On transfer deadline day those rumours were dashed as he signed for relegation threatened Crewe Alexandra in League Two, but a day later that loan was cancelled on a technicality. From that moment the only two clubs he could play for were Lincoln and Scunthorpe, so perhaps a loan deal shouldn’t have come as a surprise. He joined back up with City ahead of a credible 0-0 draw with Aldershot.
The plot was surely unfolding where he came back as the hero, banging in goals for fun as we sealed the league title. Sadly for Jonny the story went slightly differently. Lee Angol signed shortly afterwards and slammed home four goals on his debut, and despite a handful of appearances it was him and not Jonny that cemented a first-team place in the run in. The last game City lost was against Boreham Wood, and that was the last time we saw Jonny Margetts in a Lincoln City shirt. His introduction to fans was explosive, the constant rumours were exciting but ultimately his return was an anti-climax.
That didn’t stop him getting in on the celebrations though, and why not. After all, he did score four against Southport, he’ll always have that. as for next season, I think the story of Jonny Margetts and Lincoln City has come to an end. There will be better players available to us this summer on free transfers whilst Scunthorpe will almost certainly be looking for a return on their rash investment.
3 (2) Apps, 1 Goal
For my money Dayle was one of the few real disappointments in terms of recruitment. After his scintillating form at Boston he was a real hot prospect in the summer, and despite Football League interest he was heavily linked with City. Instead it was Imps hero Gareth Ainsworth that took him to Wycombe.
As the transfer window drew to a close he finally made his move to City, joining on the eve of the FA Trophy match against Welling. He scored in that, as he does, and it seemed he might be a very wise acquisition as the games began to pile up.
He wasn’t. A weak penalty against Woking did his confidence no favours, and then a petulant temper tantrum after being withdrawn at North Ferriby was the final straw. He got the last ten minutes of the FA Trophy win against Boreham Wood before departing back to Wycombe as his loan spell expired. Since then he’s played five times for Wycombe without registering a goal, but he has a year left on his contract and I think the only way he’ll appear at Sincil Bank next season is by breaking into the Wycombe team.
4 (4) Apps, 3 Goals
Joe Ward was a player I liked immensely, and his lack of league starts surprised me somewhat. He joined on loan from Brighton shortly before we drew them in the FA Cup, and made an impressive debut alongside Sean Long as we beat Gateshead in the FA Trophy. He always found it difficult to force his way into the first team, but whenever he did he looked really lively. Diminutive yet fast and skilful, I wondered at times if he had the physicality for National League football as I couldn’t see any other reason he wasn’t getting more regular game time.
Joe made things happen when he got on the ball, and his two goals against Welling and one against Boreham Wood demonstrated exactly what he could do. He seemed to be favoured as a ‘Lincoln Lizard’ in the FA Trophy rather than a league player. He got a quarter of our defeat at Barrow under his belt, as well as 45 minutes in the league against York City but that was the extent of his input into our title campaign. Interestingly he did feature against both Burnley and Arsenal, meaning he played in three times as many cup games as he did league games.
Joe joined Brighton on a development contract in 2015 from Chelmsford City, and as far as I can see that is up for renewal this summer. With Brighton climbing into the Premiership I wonder if the likeable winger might be deemed surplus to requirements? If so I would welcome him at Sincil Bank with open arms as I feel there was much more to come from the former Chelmsford player.