Okay I don’t actually know who it is, sorry for the misleading title. After a rather sleepless night though I do have a more intimate knowledge of the ‘spare centre half’ scene, and I’ve compiled a list of players that might just be unveiled as an Imps player later today or this week. Might.
First up is Stevenage’s Fraser Franks (pictured). I’ve championed Franks since the start of the pre-season, and whilst he is a real long shot given his importance to Stevenage, you never quite know. Danny will know Fraser well as he’s been around the southern non-league scene and the lower leagues for a while now, as well as featuring for the England C team. He’s a centre half of some standing too, in 2015/16 he cleaned up the Player of the Year awards at Broadhall Way in much the same manner as Alex Woodyard did for us this season.
There are several issues with Franks though, and those issues potentially rule out many of the other players I identified overnight. Firstly, I can’t see us paying cash for a central defender. Callum Howe will be leaving on loan and I dare bet that any incoming player will be moving in the same way. There is little to no chance that Boro will let their star defender move on loan, and even if we did pay they’d be wanting a high five-figure sum for him. Contrary to public perception we are not swimming in money, our summer business hasn’t been decadent but it has been budget stretching.
At 26 I also think he is perhaps too old for the role Danny is chasing. The player we sign will more than likely be a younger player with some game time under his belt. I think one of the reasons Callum is going out on loan is because he spent last season on the side lines, and I don’t believe Danny wants that two seasons in a row for him. Luke and Sean (if he stays) will be our pairing and another season sat twiddling his thumbs could be the ruination of Callum. No, any defender we sign will have a battle on his hands to get games and Fraser Franks would not move to be a sub. As much as I want it to be Fraser that joins Lincoln City, I’m not sure it will be.
I also wondered about the potential for us to bring in someone from Arsenal. I get the impression our relationship with them is very good, and in the past we did get Gavin Hoyte on loan, although he came at a bad time and it wasn’t a success. They’ve got a couple of young defenders that might fit the bill, Krystian Bielik and Tafari Moore being the ones that really stand out. Moore has represented England up to under-20 level and is a Kilburn born player that spent much of last season on loan at Utrecht. Moore is an interesting character, he’s a devout Rastafarian that has dreadlocks and often credits god for his success. My reservation with Moore would be his potential, I wonder if he might be more suited to a Championship side than fighting for a spot in League Two.
Bielik (pictured above) has represented his native Poland up to under 19 level, and he stands at six-foot two. He can operate in the central midfield area as well as the defence, and he might offer a more reasonable alternative to Moore if he were in our sights. Again it is the aspirations of Arsenal for the player that might be a stumbling block. He spent ten games on loan at Birmingham in the Championship last season, and it may be that he will be sent somewhere similar this time around.
Finally I’ve come up with three names that are perhaps more likely than the first few. Firstly there is Matty Foulds, and Everton under 23 player originally with Bury. He’s been a regular starter for the under 23’s since his move to Goodison almost two years ago, and he has a bit of ‘Jack Hobbs’ about him. He was promoted from Bury’s academy but after just two outings he agreed a move to Everton. Since then he hasn’t had any first team football, and if he isn’t on the Imps radar then I’m almost certain we’ll see him in the Checkatrade Trophy, or won’t see him depending on your boycott stance.
Finally there is Robert Dickie from Reading. He’s a six-footer that has played a significant amount of time on loan at Cheltenham, both in the National League and League Two. His parent club is Reading, a side comfortable with loaning us player as we saw with Sean Long last season. He has solitary caps at England u18 and u19 levels too, so he has some credentials. He actually came through the Reading academy at the same time as long, something that could also be a factor in him being a target. After all we know Danny likes to get references for his players, so it stands to reason it is likely he could target players his current squad already know.
Dickie is 21 years of age and held in very high regard by those at Whaddon Road, and if he were a target I think he would put pressure on the pairing of Raggett and Watefall. Another player who could do that is Sam Hughes.
This would be another long-shot, but Hughes is a highly rated defender who recently left Chester for Leicester City. It might be the case that Leicester want to loan him back to a Football League club in order for him to gain some regular first team football, maybe there is a another coup on the cards?
That’s my two-pennies worth anyway, maybe our new face will come from there, maybe he won’t. We know Danny has a habit of surprising us, and it is perhaps prophetic that it is almost a year to the day since we signed Sean Raggett. As I mentioned last night, the defence is the one area we might just be lagging a little with, and whoever comes in may go on to play a big part in the coming season.