The Imps have some major injury concerns ahead of the visit of Bury this week, with three key players struggling after a gruelling start to the season.
Three first team players are struggling ahead of the game, so the Stacey West has decided to look at each one and the possible impact it could have on the current start to the season.
The first major concern is Josh Vickers and this could be the one that has the biggest impact. Vickers was a key part of our charge to third in the table last season and after his injury against Luton Town, our form dipped.
Remember, a keeper doesn’t just save shots, he organises the defence, commands an area and gives orders. If the keeper changes, everything in front of him is different too and whether Ryan Allsop was a better shot stopper wasn’t the full picture.
Vickers injury is said to be the quadricep, but as yet unconfirmed as being linked to his spell out last season. The mutterings don’t sound positive though, he picked up an injury that prevented him from kicking so one would assume it is the same quadricep that ruled him out for six months last time around.
Is Grant Smith good enough to step in? He certainly looked competent in the Port Vale game and having played for England C I’m pretty happy he would be an adequate replacement.
The issue here is not whether Smith can step up, but the impact on Danny’s transfer plans. we already have three loan players but if there’s a question mark over the keepers, he’ll need to add another face. That might scupper plans to draft in outfield players.
Also, was Vickers struggling on Saturday? He didn’t seem to get down for their goal quite as quick as he normally does, did his injury contribute to the derby day draw?
Shay McCartan has been one of the really surprising hits for me. I expected him to come in as a replacement forward, someone to perhaps rotate with Matt Green, but instead he’s sat in the Gazza role and occasionally look like the great man on the ball.
He has fantastic control and is willing to carry the ball forward, terrifying defenders. There’s still some work on end product, but I suspect he could be a key part of the squad all season. There’s a bullish arrogance to him in possession, he plays as though he believes he is better than the opposition and I like that.
He’s nursing a knock and might not make the starting XI which will be another loss. Okay, it wasn’t evident on Saturday, but the penetration he offers, along with Harry Anderson and Bruno Andrade, frightens teams.
If he is injured, it might be that Lee Frecklington moves forward into that role, we might even see Juan Luque although I’d be surprised. The most likely option is Tom Pett and if that happened, you’d get no complaints from me. Pett is a competent and accomplished midfielder who could step forward with consummate ease.
Wharton started against Grimsby on the bench after picking up a knock which meant a first league start for Jason Shackell. It was the former derby man who made a hash of the clearance before Woolford’s goal, which shows the immediate impact of Wharton’s absence.
However, when we’re at home the likelihood is we’ll be a flat back four and that means the overall impact to the side is minimal. We don’t have to have a major reshuffle if Scott is out, we simply miss the attributes he brings. James Wilson could partner Shackell, as could Michael Bostwick so we don’t have too much to worry about.
However, Wharton is a top defender and, aside from Bostwick, maybe the best we have in terms of an all round game. He’s athletic, a threat in both boxes and as confident as a man with a decade experiences on him. For me, losing Wharton is a big blow, especially when you consider with him in the side, we’ve not conceded in open play.