In the press conference today Danny has spoken of Nathan returning to full training with a passion for making an appearance on derby day.
It is refreshing to have a former Town player not seeking a loan move to Barrow just to get out of the game, but in Nathan we have a unique professional footballer, motivated by so much more than a few quid. His legend status at both clubs is a testament to his impact and his personality, and his 79th minute goal the last time the two sides met has been long forgotten.
Recently he’s been absent from the team, due to a niggling injury rather than the dreaded ‘rest’ a couple of the other boys have suffered. He’ll be desperate to get on against Grimsby, but given his lack of first team football I suspect he’ll warm the bench. That might just be the most important position on the squad this weekend.
We all know what our game is about. Supreme fitness, hard work and injections of pace from the bench late on. This week against Barnet we lacked the explosion of pace we needed around 70 minutes. Maguire Drew came on but there are still question marks over his tracking back. There are no such questions over Nathan Arnold, none at all. He works harder than a pit pony, he’s quicker off the mark than a 2-litre Golf GTI and his as composed and calm as the Chaser on ITV’s The Chase. His recent injury has kept him sidelined but he has more motivation than most for getting involved.
I can see Nathan striding up and down the touch-line now, eager to prove himself to a club he left under a bit of a cloud. I’m not ‘in the know’ but as I understand it he was offered one deal in January of 2015, but on promotion that deal was replaced by ne slightly less lucrative. It sounds like a tactics we know well here, but when the player is someone as effective as Nathan Arnold you know it is a grave error on their part. Rather than take the security he risked losing everything and turned them down. Later that summer he met with DC, and the rest is Imps folklore. Nathan Arnold was a cod and all that.
With the threadbare squad we have now any player regaining fitness is a god send, but Nathan returning is much more. He is integral to what we do, he fits perfectly into our system. His work rate is excellent and usually his name is pre-printed on the team sheet to save Danny writing it out. Josh Ginnelly is an explosive player as is Harry Anderson, but both will serve their time coming off the bench to blow full backs to bits. This weekend expect them both to get a start, but expect a revved up Nathan Arnold to step into the fray just after the hour.
When he does we know what we’ll get, and Grimsby know too. The problem is, what will they do to combat it? They’ll need their pace in defence from the first whistle, they can’t budget for switching it around at the back on the hour mark. The cod fans would deem that negative and I’m not sure they have the players to do it either. If the game has been tight, as they usually are, it might be that final phase that separates the wheat from the chaff. If that is the case then I see Nathan potentially being the difference between the two sides.
Remember, this isn’t just a Lincolnshire derby Nathan wants to impress in. His two-year deal is up this summer and he’ll be keen to impress his value on Bob and the board, as well as Danny. there could be no better way of doing that than bagging a winner against our old enemies on their own pitch.
He could just be the first player since Ciaran Toner to turn out for both Lincolnshire sides and score. Toner scored for Grimsby in their 3-0 Blunder Park win in December 2005, having scored for City in January 2005 as we hammered them 4-2 in their own back yard. More of the same on Saturday would be gratefully received!