Defender James Wilson has left Sincil Bank by mutual consent today, with twelve months left to run on his two-and-a-half year deal with the club.
Wilson joined the Imps from Sheffield United in January 2018 after spending a successful period on loan at Walsall. The former Wales defender bagged on his debut, a 1-1 draw away at Barnet.
He forced his way into the first team following the departure of Sean Raggett, but a broken ankle suffered in a 0-0 draw with Cambridge meant he missed some of the 20117/18 run in. By the time he regained fitness, the season ended.
Last season he found himself on the periphery as Jason Shackell formed a strong partnership with Michael Bostwick, becoming fourth choice behind loanee Scott Wharton. Wharton went, Cian Bolger arrived and James Wilson stayed in fourth place.
The club statement read; “With the Imps gaining promotion, and looking to strengthen different areas of the squad in the coming weeks, this decision made sense to all parties and allows James the opportunity to find a Club for the start of pre-season. Also, this move for the defender frees up much needed finance to support other possible opportunities to strengthen the squad.”
His departure has paved the way for an arrival, of sorts. Youngster Jordan Adebayo-Smith has received his first professional contract after impressing with the Under 18s last season. He had a good spell out on loan with Grantham Town too, scoring plenty and keeping him firmly in Danny’s plans.
Imps boss Danny Cowley had nothing but praise for the attacker, although he stressed the hard work was just beginning.
“He has some unbelievable raw materials in terms of his pace and his spring, and we’re working really hard to develop him further technically,” Danny told the club site.
“The biggest challenge for him now is to keep developing his understanding of the game and how we can use that.”
This is a thoroughly unsurprising day for the club. James Wilson hasn’t been in the first team picture for some time and he always felt frustrated to me. In my programme interview with him back in November, he said; “I’m a centre back and a right back, that’s always been the case. I’ve played midfield a couple of times but that’s only ever been when I’m desperately needed. Ideally, I’d like to play centre back and I haven’t had the opportunity as yet, but I’m happy to play wherever I’m asked if it is what the team needs.”
It felt like he was upset at not playing in his normal position, but that he didn’t want to say anything out of turn in the interview. He was a nice guy, I’m not having a pop now he’s gone, but I did feel his frustration in his manner. I didn’t get a feeling of ‘attitude problem’, but he certainly wasn’t content playing second fiddle to the other boys.
Is he a big loss? Possibly not. If we’re going to have a small squad then perhaps three centre backs plus a versatile loan player is the way forward. I don’t know how much he was on, but it wouldn’t be peanuts and the money can surely be better spent elsewhere. We did call his departure in our end of season round-up, but I don’t think it took a genius to work out it might happen.
As for Jordan getting a pro deal, it’s as unsurprising as James Wilson leaving. I know the young lad has been impressing out on loan and his goals record speaks for itself. It was great to see him make his debut earlier in the season but, as Danny says, the hard work does start now.
One thing that’s always struck me about him is how diverse he feels as a youngster. He’s come from London, been on trial at other clubs and yet has ended up coming through with us. I know some supporters will feel that’s poor for our local youth, but I think it shows how wide we’re casting the net to find young players worthy of League One progression.
Is Jordan good enough? He’s certainly shown flashes and given how *ahem* ‘tight’ Danny is with squad numbers, I don’t think he’d keep him on as a symbol of the academy doing well. Look how we dealt with Lee Shaw and Joan Luque; there isn’t a shred of emotion in these footballing decisions. On that basis, I think we might have a decent young lad on our hands next season.
Thank the lord for the EFL Trophy, a competition he’s sure to feature in at the very least.