The Imps have been linked with Cheltenham Town striker Billy Waters, leading scorer last season at Whaddon Road with sixteen goals in all competitions.
Gloucestershirelive are reporting that Waters discussions with Cheltenham have broken down, and they name the Imps as one of the teams in the hunt for the 22-year old forward.
Robins manager Gary Johnson said “Billy seemed happy with the offer we made, but he has an agent who needs to move him on to make money. I think he needed to stay here for another year, but Billy and his agent have now gone quiet.”
It is reported Johnson was hoping to retain Waters for at least one more season. He kept him on after promotion from the National League, despite having a mass clear out upon achieving promotion. It has been said Waters has shown significant signs of improvement in his two years at Cheltenham. Johnson feel that improvement has been down to the work Cheltenham have put in with him.
“It’s a bit sad, but I am still hoping he might look at it and feel we are the best situation for him because he has improved here, but someone else may now gain from that. All we can do is make our offer and see what he chooses, but we have so far had no official contact from any other clubs, because compensation will be involved.”
As Waters is 22 there would be a fee involved, be it one decided between the two clubs, or invariably one decided by a tribunal. So who is Billy Waters?
Waters is the more traditional ‘little man’ of a front two, 5’9 but quick and instinctive in front of goal. He started out at Crewe, rolling off the youth conveyor belt there under the watchful eye of Steve Davis. He was brought prematurely into the first team fold eventually signing a one-year deal in 2012.
After two years at Crewe he moved to Cheltenham to help their promotion push in the National League. He made his debut at Sincil Bank as we shared a 1-1 opening day draw, and by the end of the season he’d caught the eye of the England C selectors, picked in the squad for a trip to the Ukraine. He bagged 11 times from 38 outings, including one against Danny Cowley’s Braintree.
This season he has been ever-present for Cheltenham, making 55 appearances, scoring 16 goals in all competitions. He did struggle for goals from mid February, only scoring twice in his last 14 games, both in a 3-3 draw with Wycombe.
Just three weeks ago Waters spoke of his desire to remain at Cheltenham. speaking to Gloucestershirelive he said:
“I would love to stay here and I love playing for this club. We have had some great moments, with promotion and pulling off the impossible last year. This season we all wanted to do more and we didn’t want to be scrapping, but we have shown resilience to stay up. Since leaving Crewe my aim was to get back into the Football League and stay there, so it’s gone to plan so far.”
Waters picked up four of Cheltenham’s Player of the Season awards at the end of the campaign, and he is clearly highly rated. Cheltenham feel they will be due a large compensation package should he move to another side, but with just two years at Whaddon Road it would be taken into account that they haven’t developed him from a child, merely put in two years efforts. He has clearly thrived under Gary Johnson, a manger with vast experience. Maybe he is looking for his next tutor to continue his development?
What is clear is the Billy Waters has proven himself this season at League Two level, sixteen goals is no mean feat and at just 22 years of age, he has many of his best years ahead of him. Whether that is in the red and white of Cheltenham, Lincoln or the colours of someone else remains to be seen.