It’s been a while since the name Sam Habergham has been splashed across these pages. He’s the player who has missed three successive pre-seasons and now seemingly has lost his first team place.
Or has he? I’ve been impressed with Harry Toffolo, he’s quick and loves to probe down the left hand side, but on occasion I have to question his defensive attributes. he’s stood off a couple of tackles and been done by a winger or two, not to an extent where I’m bothered about his play, but certainly enough to make me think he might be more of a wing back.
Maybe he’s more of a left winger? He’s certainly attacking minded and he’s arrived late in the box a couple of times recently. His left foot cracks a lovely free kick an some of his delivery into the box from out wide has been exciting too. Could it be that when Sam finally gets back to full fitness, he’s got a shot at left back with Toffolo playing ahead of him?
Sam went from ‘steady seven’ to terrific ten in the 2016/17 season, certainly in games against Forest Green and Torquay where his goals changed matches. He was the left back I thought we’d have for many seasons to come, but injury ravaged two pre-seasons for him and last time out he was more like a so-so six most of the campaign. He didn’t get done an awful lot, but he wasn’t as sharp or as clinical as he had been.
If you want proof, look at the assists table. In 2016/17 he got 11 assists, but last season that number reduced to four.
Was it the step up? was it a change in our approach? Whatever it was, seven slipped to sixth and the stalwart of the title winning squad fell out of favour, only with nobody to replace him he was a first team regular.
Was he ever really fit, or did he ‘take one for the team’ over the course of a whole season? His latest injury woes suggest perhaps the latter.
If he comes back and gets fit, he could perceivably fit into a 4-4-2 if we go that way. Harry Toffolo is impressing enough to have me think he’ll be the number one choice, but Sam hasn’t become a bad player and that superb left-back we saw carrying an injury in 2016/17 is still capable of reaching better heights. He needs to, with his contract due this summer it will be crucial for him he gets some game time, otherwise he might get the dreaded ‘what he’s worth’ deal that drove Elliott Whitehouse and Terry Hawkridge elsewhere.
Along with Rheady, Sam is one link we still have to that memorable season on the playing side. His free kick against Torquay possibly sparked the most frantic scenes I’ve seen at Sincil Bank in years and it is often overlooked thanks to Nathan’s heroics at Gateshead two days later, but Sam Habergham was as much to thank for our National League title as anyone.
I hope when he comes back, he gets a chance to show what he can do and maybe benefit from Danny Tinkerman’s insistence on having a hundred different approaches to skinning a single cat.