So folks, here we are. Three days left of the transfer window and Lincoln City are still hoping to add ‘one or two more’ according to Danny Cowley.
Over the past few days I’ve had a lot of messages from fans asking what I know. The truth is, I know very little indeed. Despite being fed many snippets of information, living out in Louth means I don’t hang around the ground like a fan boy quite as often as some think I may. No, I’m not quite as ‘in the know’ as some, or rather as some like to believe. One thing I do know if the man pictured above is going nowhere, that in itself is a transfer coup.
I think we have a good grasp of what Danny is looking for this transfer window and, bar perhaps one position, he’s got what he wants. Despite talking up his small squad prior to the window opening, it does seem as though he’s intent on seeing in the second half of the season with similar numbers.
There are many pro and cons to this, but one point to consider is squad morale. There isn’t a Lincoln City player who hasn’t had a good amount of game time, whether it’s a first team regular like Matt Green or a fringe player such as Elliott ‘the Chief’ Whitehouse who struggles to find an identity in the squad. They’ve all had a part to play and whilst Luton’s squad is flabbier than Steve Evans’ bingo wings, ours doesn’t have an ounce of body fat on it. We’re stripped back, lean and mean. One injury could bugger everything up though, Danny will be aware of that.
I wonder if perhaps once the window is shut, a new deal for Neal Eardley might be on the table. He’s been immense, in a recent vote on this site he was far and away the most popular choice for player of the season
Our real strength is in the versatility of some of our players and it is that reason that we can operate on such small numbers. The two players who really offer depth are Michael Bostwick and Neal Eardley, both supreme professionals who have been invaluable to our squad. I wonder if perhaps once the window is shut, a new deal for Eardley might be on the table. He’s been immense, in a recent vote on this site he was far and away the most popular choice for player of the season.
Anyway, onto the next couple of days. There will be an ‘in’ or two and maybe an ‘out’, here is the latest, as I see it, within our squad.
Nathan Arnold is the subject of heavy rumours, but much to your disappointment I’m not going to comment too much on this. I class Nathan as a friend and I have spoken to him over the last 48 hours about his future, but not in my capacity as a conduit for Imps news. I contacted him because I genuinely want him to find personal satisfaction with his next move. Believe me, if he were to leave Lincoln his departure would be felt, he’s a quality man to have around the dressing room and he still has plenty to offer the playing side too. Anyone who saw him roast the Rochdale full back a couple of weeks ago knows this. For me to discuss what we spoke about would be breaching the trust of a man I respect greatly and therefore, I won’t. All I will say is this; don’t believe everything you read.
The obvious arrival is going to be up front and again, I’m struggling to bring you anything concrete. Those still hankering after Ricky Miller are going to be disappointed I think, Posh are holding firm on his price and it may be that his Football League career is put on hold for the time being. Even if the price does drop in the next few days, I’m not sure we’ll see him coming into the Bank as the only signing. Ricky Miller represents a real risk both financially and in terms of his state of mind, would Danny be willing to take that punt at a crucial stage of our development? There’s no doubt Miller is available, not being involved on Tuesday proved that, but unless the situation change dramatically I can’t see him becoming a Lincoln player.
I’ve got to at the same for Lyle Taylor too. He’s been absolutely crucial to Wimbledon this season, I saw a stat this weekend that suggested he’s been involved in something like 60% of Wimbledon’s goals. As a business, Wimbledon’s survival is paramount and I’m sure they will let Taylor walk away for free in the summer if he fires them to another season in League One over the next couple of months. I wouldn’t rule out seeing him in red and white at some point, Danny Cowley knows the lad but it may be a step too far to involve him in our early 2018 play-off chase.
The one name I still see popping up is Simeon Akinola, but again the likelihood of a move for him has diminished now Graham Westley has taken over at Barnet. Akinola came on as a sub this weekend and despite being seen in Imps training kit earlier in the season, I wonder if that boat has also sailed. I’ll say one thing for Simeon, when he did find himself at City he refused to be photographed, even by fans, wearing his training kit. Remember, his move was all-but sealed and he was practically a Lincoln player, but he still didn’t want to insult his old team by being seen in our kit before an announcement. I like that, Akinola has respect and integrity which would make him a good fit with City.
It’s all gone quiet on the Theo Robinson front also, whether that was just scurrilous internet rumours or not is a mystery. I truly believed he would fit the bill, despite many reservations, and one wonders if perhaps Phil brown’s removal as Southend manager has altered a few things. Robinson came on as a 83rd minute sub for Southend this weekend, so it appears as though he is in Chris Powell’s plans, but football moves fast and that could mean very little. even so, I don’t expect to see him in red and white either.
If there is a striker coming in, which we all hope there is, I suspect it will be a name out of left field, someone we’ve not considered previously. I still think there might be a loan on the cards, but the pitfalls there are plain to see. JMD and Dickie were two loans that perhaps didn’t work out, one through performance levels and the other because of the Oxford move. Whereas Yeovil can guarantee a young player plenty of chances, I’m not sure Lincoln City can. Matt Green and Matt Rhead are an effective pairing and any player coming in will have to fight for his place. Will a Championship side be willing to give us a youngster when he might not get a game? Similarly, would Danny promise game time to a player if he knew that might not be the case?
I know a lot of people will be telling me to move on or groaning out loud at this point, but there’s rising speculation that he could be about to make a sensational return for the latter part of the season.
Whilst many will disagree, I don’t feel we need to sign the ’20-goal’ striker that everyone is clamouring for. Matt Green is prolific, sharp and scores goals. Remember, we just stuck four past a side sat eighth in League One, goals are not an issue. No, whoever comes in is to offer cover, options and extra running, but is not necessarily coming in to replace anyone. Of course, all strikers have to score goals, but don’t expect us to bring in someone with lots of ’20’s in his goals for columns. Those players cost a lot of money and contrary to popular belief, we are operating on a finite budget.
One transfer that has shifted back onto the table this window is the possible return of Sean Raggett on loan. I know a lot of people will be telling me to move on or groaning out loud at this point, but there’s rising speculation that he could be about to make a sensational return for the latter part of the season.
It would make sense, Danny has brought in one centre half in James Wilson, but we’ve lost Dickie and Raggett making us one light. Whilst Bozzie can operate at centre half, and has done with great effect recently, it does leave us looking short in midfield. Lee Frecklington was a huge singing but he’ll be nursed through the Saturday / Tuesday scenario, so perhaps we do need another player in the centre of the park, be it Bozzie or another. When considering this, a move for Raggett seems a sensible one.
We know what he’s capable of and despite the calls for all parties to ‘move on’, if it were on the table we’d be foolish not to secure his services. He can’t go anywhere else this campaign having played for us and Norwich, so it all depends on whether they’re willing to loan him out or not. All I’ll say is this: it wouldn’t surprise me given the lack of incoming faces to hear Sean was coming back on loan.
In terms of timescale, if Sean is coming back I’d expect an announcement today or tomorrow. There’s little point in him being at Carrow Road if it has been agreed, not least because they’re without a game tomorrow evening. There were rumours he may have been in Lincoln last night, again unsubstantiated, but they sound plausible. There would be little point in waiting until Wednesday to announce it, especially as he could be involved against Newport if the deal is alive and kicking.
Other than that, don’t expect too much until we’ve faced Newport. Agents will be hanging on as best they can, pushing for new deals and big paydays for their clients. It’s like a tense wild west stand-off at the moment, everyone has their targets but nobody will make the first move. On Wednesday, one agent, player or manager will blink first and the whole powder keg will explode into life. Until then, be patient.