Danny and Nicky have been burning the motorway miles this week, armed with eight references per player. They’ve been down in the capital, and then up to the town of hanging monkeys. It’s been a busy week as they look to add the first new faces to the Imps squad, and typically social media has buzzed with possible names of players.
So here, in usual style, is a brief list of three players per town that Danny and Nicky might have been speaking about. I will only discuss players who I have seen mentioned on social media, speculatively or otherwise.
The first player they might have been speaking to in London is a familiar face, Billy Knott. His name emerged towards the end of the week in connection with City, and usually that happens when agents start to leak news to websites in order to drum up some additional interest. ‘Billy Knott to sign for Lincoln’ screamed Twitter headlines from accounts with names such as ‘Football League Transfer News’. We’ve already seen the same headlines surrounding Raggs this summer, but as yet there’s no movement.
I would imagine Knott is based in the south, given that he is from Kent and plays for Gillingham. Would he be in London? If it were me going to talk to a player, as soon as I passed signs for Peterborough I’d think I was in London, but Danny might be a little less blasé about the boundaries of the capital. It wouldn’t surprise me if we’re talking to Billy, but it would surprise me if they’d gone down to London to check him out, I’m fairly convinced they know him anyway.
Oliver Hawkins is a name that comes a little out of left field, but it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. He had a good season for Dagenham last time out, but they’ve been dipping into the market for strikers this summer, bringing in Morgan Ferrier and Michael Cheek. Is Hawkins poised for a big move to a Football League club?
It would certainly fit with a few of the hints we’ve been given about new faces. He would command a fee, that much would be certain, and the rumours strengthen as he would command a transfer fees. He’s a relatively young and ambitious striker, 25 -years of age but with just half a season of league football to his name. He’s been banging about the southern non-league scene for a while, but last season managed 18 goals in 42 appearances for the Daggers. If he’s going to step up, he needs to do it very soon.
He did find himself on the periphery as the Daggers stumbled to a play-off defeat though, losing his starting berth to Jordan McGuire-Drew, on loan from Brighton. Hawkins is a big lump, 6’2″ and a definite possible long-term replacement for Matt Rhead, if indeed that is who they were speaking to.
Another name that has been mentioned a couple of times is Cheltenham wide man Tom Pett. Pett (pictured top) is a highly rated ex England C international who has recently turned down a new deal at Stevenage. He isn’t particularly young anymore at 26, but he is a player who has spent a lot of time in the southern non-league scene before his step up. He would again command a transfer fee, which is something we’ve heard mentioned, and it is perhaps more likely than Hawkins because Pett is on the transfer list too.
Pett is highly rated, and Stevenage wanted to keep him but he’s turned down a deal in favour of going on the transfer list. I’ve seen a couple of people saying Danny’s just followed him on Twitter as well, but I won’t be doing any ‘follower stalking’ at present. I would imagine Pett is still London-based, so he certainly fits the profile.
The most likely outcome in the south is this: Danny and Nicky are talking to players who we haven’t heard of mentioned on social media, nor ones that I’ve commented on.
Was there a clue in the fact they said they were in Hartlepool? Many fans immediately started scouring the squad list of the recently relegated side to see whom we might be in the running for. I’ll get the most unlikely out of the way first.
Padraig Amond is well-known to Imps fans as the striker that helped fire Grimsby back to the Football League, but after one slightly disappointing season in the North East, he’s back where he was fourteen months ago. He’s a proven striker, something we know Danny and Nicky are looking for, and having signed a two-year deal last summer he would command a transfer fee.
Here’s the problem, Amond is 29 and I think that is older than the players Danny and Nicky are looking to bring to the club. He can score goals in the National League, there’s no doubt about that, but he only scored half as many in League Two. The reports suggest they’re looking at players who have the ability to ‘play in the Championship’, is that really Amond? I don’t think so.
21-year old Brad Walker has also been mentioned as a potential new recruit. Walker has been with Hartlepool since kids football, and signed his first professional deal in 2013. In 2014 he won the prestigious ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, shortly after spending time at an England under 18’s training camp. It seems he fits the bill of ‘promising’ young player, and as recently as January 2016 he was invited for a trial at Wolves.
After featuring 27 times for Hartlepool in 2015/16, he struggled to break into the side this season. He made his first league appearance in January, but went on to play 19 league games. He featured on the heart breaking final day, a 2-1 win over Doncaster which was just not enough to remain in the Football League. He’s a big lad too, 6’3″ from head to toe, and he was once rated by Four Four Two magazine as on of the top ’10 Football League Players to Watch’. The same article identified a young MK Dons midfielder by the name of Dele Alli as having potential too.
Walker certainly has potential, and he would command a fee so he fits the bill on two fronts. I’m just not sure his style and position is high on our priorities list. He plays a similar role to Alex Woodyard, and I would be surprised if one of our earliest signings is a player who would be in direct competition with our Player of the Year, unless there’s something we don’t know.
It is possible that Hartlepool was just a meeting place, and the boys weren’t meeting a player from that town at all. That opens up a whole plethora of possibilities, and one I have seen mention is Lynden Gooch. He’s currently on the books of Sunderland, having also played at Gateshead and Doncaster. Someone who knows someone else who knows the Sunderland cleaner (or something) even heard they’d accepted a bid for Gooch from us. It’s all very ‘I’m in the know’, but just for a second let us put that aside and look at the player.
Gooch is American born, growing up in California to an English father and Irish mother. He joined up with Sunderland at the age of ten, flying over during school holidays at first, before moving over full-time at the age of 16.
He struggled to break into the Mackems first team, and spent time on loan at Gateshead (7 apps, 1 goal) and towards the end of the 2015/16 season, Doncaster (10 apps, 0 goals). This season, as his side have faltered and ended up relegated, he has broken into the first team reckoning. He managed 14 outings in the first team, six of which were starts. He started early season games against Man City, Middlesbrough, Southampton and Everton, matches that brought three defeats and a draw. He didn’t start a league game after October though, it may have become apparent he wasn’t cut out for Premier League football.
Is a move to City likely? After spending time on loan in the lower reaches it is possible, but I have to say I think it is very unlikely indeed. Players on the fringe of the first team this season must be considered able to play the division below, and surely Sunderland will be looking for a return on a player they invested in since he was ten. He certainly ticks the age box and the Championship ability box, but I can’t see Danny and Nicky bidding on a player of his ilk, nor can I see Sunderland selling him to Lincoln.
The outcome? I’d say they were probably talking to a player not mentioned here, and not mentioned anywhere else on social media. Remember, last season at this stage nobody was talking about Sean Raggett at all, and yet they suddenly paraded him in front of the cameras as if he’d been pulled out of a magician’s hat. I’m under no illusions that they were up and down the country searching for yet another magic rabbit.