What to expect from this evening’s clash – with quotes from Neal Eardley

City take on Sheffield Wednesday this evening in the second pre-season friendly of the summer, in front of what will be a far busier Sincil Bank.

The Owls are brings a fair few fans, probably more than we’ll have in the ground ourselves. I’m not getting into the rights and wrongs of that now, it is a financially attractive friendly that the club will benefit from long after the last blue and white shirts have left Lincoln.

The game will be pretty much the same as it was the other night, the early friendlies tend to follow the same pattern. Danny will field a possible starting XI, A Trialist is likely to feature at left centre back again to allow us a good look at him. Tactically, much depends on who is fit and who is not but personally, I wouldn’t expect any ground breaking changes this evening. we might shuffle things around a bit, but it is much more about fitness than anything, although perhaps not for the trial players.

Eardley in friendly action last summer – courtesy of Graham Burrell

The early friendlies are all about fitness, the first two players usually expect to get a half, maybe fifty minutes. That doesn’t mean they won’t be trying to win the game, not one bit, but much depends on how well a team can continue to gel when many changes are being made. I had a chat with Neal Eardley recently about pre-season preparation and he confirmed as much to me.

“Any footballer will tell you, any game, friendly or whatever, you go out to win. That’s absolutely without question. With them being pre-season friendlies, the way they tend to go you spend the first two or three games playing a half or so, getting used to it again after the break. You ease in to sixty or seventy minutes before hoping to get ninety minutes in the last game or two.”

You can read more for that interview in the match day programme that covers the four matches at Sincil Bank, on sale this evening.

So, the game will be low key and a mixture of our players and trial players. It’ll start in some sort of rhythm and slowly descend into an unpredictable mish mash of players, styles and abilities. If you want to see a 90 minute exercise, you’ll need to be in Boston week after next!

That isn’t a reason not to go tonight of course, if you want to see John Akinde in a Lincoln shirt and can’t possibly wait until the first game, tonight is going to be your first chance. Whether the long-awaited return of Michael O’Connor will come this evening is up for debate, as is Lee Frecklington’s involvement. I’m sure Danny will want to get some minutes into those players, but there’s no rush with plenty of matches coming up in the next few weeks.

Another chance to see Lee Shaw in a City kit

There will be a chance to see Lee Shaw in action again, a player Mark Whiley described today as ’50/50′ with regards to earning a full time deal with the club. A goal wouldn’t hurt, but I’m sure Lee will wish his chances had come against Boston and Lincoln United, rather than Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.

There’s also a chance you’ll see Toby Edser again, the Nottingham Forest youngster who has been billed as the next big thing by those in the know at the City Ground. There’s also a chance Lincoln-born Adam Crookes will play, another potential loan signing we’re running the eye over.

My gut feeling tells me that Bruno Andrade might start, we might try three at the back and John Akinde will partner Matt Green in the first half. As the game wears on I suspect Danny will look at Shaw running off the big man and maybe Pett in an advanced midfield role. Ellis Chapman will get plenty of game time too, I suspect he’ll see more action than most in this pre-season as he’s not likely to be a first team regular once the campaign kicks off. That isn’t writing him off, not one bit, but Danny is being careful with his development and that means managing his load.

Adam Crookes – Forest

As for Wednesday, they’ve signed nobody as yet so there’s no ‘Jordan Rhodes’ style headlines to write like there was earlier in the week. It’s ironic that we face Rhodes new club and his old club in such a short space of time, but as of 3.42pm they haven’t signed anyone to take his place. Expect Atdhe Nuhiu to make an appearance, as well as impressive youngster Preslav Borukov. He’s an U23 player at Hillsborough but is likely to be in the squad. Sean Clare might get a run out too, an impressive 21-year old with a big future under Jos Luhukay.

Expect to see me too, if you’re close by of course. I might not like friendlies but when it comes to Lincoln City, I’m a fly and it is a small pile of something tasty on the floor I just keep buzzing around. I’ll turn off my ears to the stuff I moaned about the other night, concentrating purely on the players and the formation.

I might even write about it later.