Attacking Midfielders: Who might be in the frame?

Courtesy Graham Burrell

At midnight tonight we’re exactly 31 days away from the transfer window, potentially the most crucial in Imps history for a decade. The promise this current side shows needs assistance to help it develop and, if rumours are to be believed, we have a transfer kitty that will go some way to allowing Danny to bring in some fresh faces.

We’re all armchair pundits aren’t we? We know from watching on a Saturday what the team needs, forget the fact Danny and Nicky work with them every day. We know best, at least we think we do and we’ve all got ideas on what type of player we’d like to see sign. Most of us want a centre forward, that is probably a given. I also want to see an attacking midfielder, a man with goals in him who plays more advanced than Bozzie and Woodyard but not so far up that Matt Green needs to drop back. We need the link, the currently missing link.

So, who might be in the frame? You know me by now, I like to trawl through teams to see who isn’t getting a game or who we might get on loan. Here are six options Danny may, or (more likely) may not consider in January.

Bruno Andrade – Boreham Wood

I keep mentioning Andrade but I think he’d be a superb signing. He’s a former QPR youth who has found a real patch of form in the National League. He looked a handful against us last season and he’s kicked on this time around to become one of the leading scorers in the fifth tier.

He works well with a holding midfelder too, it might pain you to hear it but with Tom Champion holding and him pushing on, Boreham Wood have looked very balanced. He plays behind Blair Turgott and Dan Holman which is the sort of player we need, potentially to only play behind one centre forward.

Andrade is 24 now and out of contract at the end of the season. Whilst Boreham Wood will be wanting to hold on to him, they may struggle. In Turgott, Holman and Andrade they have three exciting players who may well fancy another crack at the Football League. Last transfer window Braintree lost Simeon Akinola to a League club and I can’t help but feel Boreham Wood will suffer the same fate. They’re having a decent season too, they’re seventh and knocked League One Blackpool out of the FA Cup. That may strengthen their resolve to hang on to Andrade, but if the player wants a move will they cash in on him? I would estimate he’d likely cost in the region of £40k too, would Danny see that as value for money? Or will he wait until the summer and bring him in for nothing?

Lee Frecklington – Rotherham

Don’t look backwards, always look to the future. It’s a common post I’ve seen recently whenever Lee Frecklington’s name has cropped up. He needs no introduction to Imps fans really, he’s a local boy done good, a man who has enjoyed a sterling career in the middle two tiers of English football and who is still only 32. Will he have the energy and endeavour we ned to support our forward players?

There are other question marks as well. He’s only recently come back from an injury and there might be a feeling that investing heavily in such a player is folly. If we take away the fact he’s an Imps legend and loved from Glebe Park to Mill Lane and beyond, he is a 32-year old footballer with (arguably) his best years behind him. Yes, he’s experienced and yes, he’s still a good player but is he what Danny would want? Plus, rumours of five-figure wages might be a stumbling block, unless he’s willing to take a pay-cut to drop down.

I’ve heard rumours he may be interested in remaining at Rotherham to earn a testimonial match, although that is highly unlikely after just five years of service. He may want a route into coaching and he may see Danny and Nicky as good people to work under. After all, he’s worked under Evans so he knows what bad looks like as well as good.

Is it a possibility? Well, as we know impossible is just an opinion so perhaps we might yet see Lee Frecklington back in a Lincoln shirt. Finances would be an issue, both what Rotherham demanded and what we need to pay him, plus the Millers might b keen on keeping their captain as they fight for a League One play-off place. Who knows? Not me, I just speculate.

Adam McGurk – Morecambe

McGurk’s name may not jump straight out at you, but he’s an attacking midfielder in our league who I believe has a lot of potential. He started out at Tranmere as a youth and later played for Burton Albion, Portsmouth and Cambridge before landing at Morecambe. He’s only 28 which means he is approaching his peak, and he’s currently got four goals from midfield in 14 starts. He isn’t prolific, but attacking midfielders are not always about lots of goals. We need a link, an exciting player to carry the ball forward and bring our wingers and forwards into play. McGurk might just be that link.

He missed the start of the season (and our match at Sincil BAnk) through injury, but he bounced back with both goals in a 2-0 win at Chesterfield as well as a winner against Wycombe earlier this month. McGurk not only brings an attacking threat, but the ability to play in a range of positions. He’s been used as a winger and a striker in his career and may be able to offer the sort of cover we get from Neal Eardley across the back. Perhaps one of the most striking things about our current squad is our wingers are not flexible enough to play through the centre of the field, meaning we have four players vying for two positions and a lack of competition in the middle of the park.

When Shaun Derry took McGurk to Cambridge from Portsmouth last summer, he said: “He is a dynamic player in the way that he works his way towards the goal and from looking at his goal scoring attributes, he’s obviously had a lot of success from the middle of the park. Adam is flexible enough to play in numerous positions, but we have brought him in as a centre forward.”

You never know.

Graham Carey – Plymouth

Before we start I have to say that singing this player is highly unlikely. Plymouth are League One and he is a starter every week, but they’re rock bottom and he did play League Two last season as they got promoted. There is nothing here to link him with Lincoln, he’s based as far away as you can possibly be, he’s not unsettled at Plymouth and, as far as I know, he’s never played for or against Danny and Nicky. He is a goal scoring central midfielder though, he does offer options out wide, particularly on the left and you just never know what we might have up our sleeve.

Carey is the sort of signing I think the fans want to see, a proven player at this level who could do a job as a first team player from the minute he walks through the door at Sincil Bank. He scored 15 times in 54 outings last season and so far this season he’s grabbed four in 21, picking up six yellows and a red card along the way. He combative, fiery and a real threat in front of goal and in addition to that he already has five assists to his name as well.

Carey is class, the type of player more likely to move up League One rather than down into League Two, but why not dream? We signed Michael Bostwick didn’t we? Nothing surprises me at Lincoln City anymore and Graham Carey is just the sort of player that we need to bring our team together coherently and effectively. What he might cost is another question altogether, both in terms of a transfer fee and wages. Once upon a time I would have said it was an absolute non-starter, but after the summer we had I believe anything is possible.

George Cooper – Crewe Alexandra

Cooper is a product of the Crewe youth system, four seasons into his football career and contracted to the Gresty Road outfit until June 2018. They’re struggling though, in freefall and maybe their ambitious young players want to move on and face a fresh challenge? Maybe they’ve recently had a swashbuckling team beat them 4-1 at home and turned a few heads? Maybe.

Why Cooper though? Very few players stood out for Crewe as we beat them, I didn’t come away with a vision of this super player in my mind. Cooper didn’t shine, the rest didn’t shine, but a quick look at the assists table for League Two tells you why George Cooper might be a nice addition: he’s got seven, four more than Alex Woodyard our leading ‘assister’.

He’s top of the assist table, at a club that is struggling and is out of contract at the end of the season. Maybe he’s one Danny has noticed watching his video analysis? Cooper has got four assists in his last six games, which means he’s created more in six games than any single player of ours has all season. That isn’t meant to put our players down, but it is numbers like those that demonstrate exactly where we are lacking.

Danny Rowe – Ipswich

Rowe’s name isn’t a new one, he was heavily linked with the Imps last season whilst playing for Macclesfield. He earned a move to Portman Road in the transfer window last season, but since then he’s failed to make an impact and may well be looking to drop back down the leagues. We know Danny likes a player who has ascended the ranks and hasn’t quite made it, he was sniffing around Stefan Payne after the Dover striker failed to break into the Barnsely side. Akinola was another who stepped up from Braintree to Barnet but arguably hasn’t really settled at the Hive.

Rowe played for Stockport and Barrow before moving to Macclesfield where he made a name for himself as a attacking midfielder with the odd goal in him. He had scored six from midfield by January 10th last season, all this before his move to Mick McCarthy’s side. He started twice, against Forest in a 3-0 defeat and Rotherham in a 1-0 loss. He got two outings form the bench too, but that was the total of his input last season.

This season he appeared twice from the bench before being handed a start in the League Cup defeat at Crystal Palace, but since then nothing. He still has a year and a half of his deal left to run and may not be prised away easily from Ipswich. If he could be, what a player he’d make. He’s six-feet tall and can play out wide as well as through the centre and despite not making the grade at Championship level, he’s certainly good enough to walk into virtually any League Two side.




It’s been a while since I’ve felt comfortable traipsing through player bios and squad lists looking for potential signings, but as December approaches I feel there will be much more of this. Who Danny signs this January will affect everything we strive to do going forward. Will he look to fish bright young talent from the non-league scene? Will he raid players at this level, looking to sell the chance of progression to them? Or will he look up, higher than League Two in order to secure experience as well as that little bit of proven class we need?

The thing is with Danny Cowely, you never know. Just when you think you know what he is going to pull off, he brings in someone like Michael Bostwick to completely flummox us all. Roll on January, that’s what I say!

1 Comment

  1. McGurk would be a great signing for us, I rate him for what it’s worth.
    Carey & Rowe are out of our reach in my opinion.
    Some great shouts though, Andrade looks odds on for me.

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