It’s EFL Trophy action this evening an even those who have been knocking the competition have got to have one eye on what happens against the Manchester United kids.
I’m not going into the debate again; it’s been had and we all have our viewpoints which are best kept to ourselves these days. What I can be sure of is that the club will be taking tonight’s game seriously, or rather Michael Appleton will be taking tonight’s game seriously.
He’s been to the final twice, losing to Barnsley and Coventry in both matches, but he takes this competition seriously. In the NTT20 podcast which I’m sure you’ve listened to; he makes it clear he sees it as a valid route to Wembley and always pushes that on to his players.
The reason the game has such value for Imps’ fans is two-fold; it’s his first match at Sincil Bank and perhaps pertinently it’s a chance to mix things up in terms of selection without affecting the league push. At the weekend, he went for consistency and after a week of training that’s not a huge surprise.
Tonight is the first time we’ll get a real flavour of Michael Appleton without the spectre of the previous manager’s selections.
Why? Because it’s a free hit. Yes, he’ll be going out to win the game but the reported presence of Jordan Adebayo-Smith in the team indicates he’s going to take a look at a few players and make his own assessments. This is his first chance to give fringe players an opportunity to show what they can do.
This is where players we feel might have a chance in the first team are going to be able to stake their claim. I firmly believe that a good outing from certain players this evening could lead to proper first team chances against Sunderland.
Remember, the preconceptions of the previous manager, his choices and hierarchy, have gone. Michael Appleton is a fresh pair of eyes looking over some very eager and excited young footballers, or in some cases perhaps those that are not so young.
Here are the players I feel have a chance to stake a claim for an improved spot at the weekend.