John Akinde and Matt Green are two great strikers, well-known in the lower reaches of the EFL. But one has faced criticism on the pitch whilst the other has had to settle for a spot on the bench so far this season.
I had actually begun to write this article last Thursday ahead of Saturday’s top of the table clash with MK Dons but Akinde’s performance has given me a bit more to think about the situation between the two strikers. Here are my thoughts, along with the facts, about whether Green deserves a recall to the starting XI…
Matt Green was the Imps talisman last season providing 17 goals as Lincoln reached the play-offs but since former Barnet striker John Akinde was brought in over the summer, the former has had nothing more than a sniff in terms of game time. Akinde is City’s top goal scorer with five goals in all competitions but his performances have been heavily criticised by the Imps faithful, more so against Crawley where his missed effort in the first period saw Lincoln fall to their first defeat of the season.
It’s not just a simple, straight swap up top either with the Imps formation varying in the opening eight league games. Andrade and Anderson are regularly starting out wide, leaving out some City players that would star in other League Two sides. Shane McCartan returned from injury on Saturday and bagged himself a goal and solid performance meaning he should be starting in the coming weeks. That means the option of both Akinde and Green has been put back for a few more weeks at least. Therefore, there is no other spot realistically for Green, unless he plays out of his skin coming off the bench, if he gets enough game time.
The starting XI situation isn’t just in the attacking department either. With Frecklington’s suspension seen as a chance for Bostwick to revert back into midfield, his versatility had been missed in the middle of the field last season. It also poses the question of Wharton or Wilson to partner Shackell at the back. In fact, neither featured on Saturday as O’Connor and Pett played in the middle of the park, meaning Bostwick remained at Centre-Back with Shackell and Eardley returning at right-back. Habergham is yet to return from injury which will possibly put Toffolo’s spot in jeopardy.
With Frecklington not making his return on Saturday at Cheltenham, O’Connor will likely keep his spot. There are plenty of options to consider this season but this certainly isn’t an issue, look where we were last season wishing we had the squad depth that we do now.
I believe this is Green’s chance to earn back his spot in the staring XI, coming off the bench first. I would like to see him partner Akinde. But at the moment, this would take a poor string of performances, injury or suspension from anyone in attack for Green to make his return. He never did anything wrong to lose his spot in the first place, and his work ethic is second to none. Whether Matt would grab this opportunity is another question, but rarely did he disappoint in the 20+ times I saw him in action last season.
It will be interesting how this situation pans out in the next few weeks and I would be thrilled to see Green partner Akinde, in what could be one of the most lethal partnerships in the EFL.