The Imps club captain Lee Frecklington is nearing a return to action, with a possibility of being involved on Monday against Mansfield Town.
The 33-year-old has been out of action since the 2-2 draw with Stevenage, but is nearing a return as the Imps close in on the final games of the season.
There are ten fixtures left, ten games which will either put Lincoln City back in the third tier for the second time in over three decades, or will lead to heartbreak on a major level.
Frecklington’s return was discussed in the press conference this week, ahead of tonight’s fixture with Oldham.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be back for Monday night’s game. Hopefully he’ll be on the grass by the middle of this week,” said Cowley in the pre-match press conference.
“It’s a tendon issue which can be challenging, but we’ve done some good work on it. We feel like we’ve modified the tissue and strengthened the muscle around the tissue. He should be good to go by the middle of this week.”
That’s all well and goo, but we’re beginning to wonder where the midfielder might play.
Since the Stevenage game, the Imps have collected ten points from 12, with only Exeter stopping us having the full set. Mark O’Hara has deputised in the centre of the park and as he showed on Friday night, he’s got an aerial threat which Freck has not got.
Assuming our captain is to take one of the two central midfield spaces, who do we drop? Michael O’Connor prowls the front of the defence and puts a tackle in, which isn’t the type of game Freck brings. He could play in that holding role, but he’s more about bringing the ball forward and creating.
That’s the role being played by O’Hara at the moment, but would he be dropped? That aerial threat is a real asset and the height of his leaps this week were astounding. He earned us the three points against Yeovil by getting onto a delivery that he had no right to reach.
If we’re not going to drop either of them, the route into the first team looks bleak for Freck at the moment.
It’s a nice issue to have of course. There was talk in the press conference of why Ellis Chapman was not called back, but that’s clear to anyone who understands the game. Mark O’Hara wasn’t brought in to play second fiddle to Ellis, the 18-year-old needs regular games and is getting those at Chesterfield.
No, the midfield did not need bolstering when Freck went out injured and that’s testament to the squad that Danny’s built He’s been efficient in adding players to the ranks who either bring value or depth and that’s never more evident than in midfield. It’s certainly created a problem for the Mansfield fixture, depending on this evening’s result.
Right now, Mark O’Hara seems to be an obvious choice because he scored, but a stinker tonight might change that. Football is a game of opinions and form and some players are only ever going to be as good as their last outing.
Our one hope is that when Freck is fit, he’s back in the side on merit and not just because he’s club captain. Mind you, knowing Lee Frecklington, if he isn’t involved straight away his attitude will be exemplary and his work ethic will remain as high as ever.
The captain still has a big part to play the club but right now, he might have to be patient and wait for his turn to come back around.