Imps left back Harry Toffolo has been turning in some superb performances of late, proving himself to be comfortable in League One and a threat going forward as well as an intrinsic part of the defence.
The last few weeks have been turbulent to say the least, but since the start of the season we’ve had to deal with fixture congestion, with both managers having to use their whole squad in certain matches. Toff has been ever-present this season, playing in all 13 league matches as well as both EFL Cup games and both EFL Trophy games.
In fact, he has missed just 45 minutes of action this season, coming on as a sub at half time of the 3-1 defeat to Doncaster Rovers. Other than that, he’s played every single minute of the campaign, making him the player to have appeared the most this season by some margin.
With Ben Coker soon to be fit, I wondered if perhaps Toff was looking forward to having that cover for some of the less ‘illustrious’ matches, such as the upcoming EFL Trophy game with Rotherham.
“If I’m fit, I want to play every game, I’ve always said that. I’ve told every manager I’ve ever played with. You can’t take being fit for granted so, when I can play, I want to play.
“Even if it’s the Leasing.com Trophy, FA Cup, league, whatever. I want to play; I enjoy my football and I’m in good shape so why would I want to take a break from it if I’m fit? I get a nice eight-week break in May and June, don’t I? I don’t need one during the season.”
The 24-year-old certainly isn’t showing signs of fatigue and completed another 90 minutes in a tough encounter against Peterborough at the weeke,d, a game he feels the Imps could have taken something from.
“I think first half we took control and we were the better side. They came out and wrapped it up a bit in the second half. There were two key moments in the game, and they were more clinical in those situations.
“It was a tough result to take as I think we deserved more from the game. There were a lot of positives to take out of the game and if we’d been as good as we were in the first half for 90 minutes, we would have gone on and won the game. It’s easy enough to say that looking back, we’ve got to try to get that concentration and level to continue for a whole match.”
I was chatting to Toff as part of the programme article for the Shrewsbury game, where we chat extensively about his work away from the pitch. He visited the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with myself, Ben and a group from the club earlier in the year, as well as recently visiting young Riley Clifton. He’s one of the players at the forefront of the Imps being in the community, something he feels very strongly about.
“It’s your duty as a professional footballer, it’s part of our role within the club and the community. We’re privileged that as a professional footballer a lot of people look up to us and we’re given opportunities where we can influence other people.”
Harry Toffolo is certainly an influential figure, both in the community as well as on the field. In my opinion, he’s been our star player so far this campaign and is integral to our progression at this level.
Make sure you pick up a programme this weekend to hear how he responded to a recent verbal attack by Jason Shackell. For those who did not see last week’s programme, Jason Shackell was asked to name the player he thought was most likely to become a manager.
“I don’t know about the most likely to be a manager,” replied the former Derby man. “I’ll come back to you in a minute, but I’ll tell you who won’t be a manager; Toffolo. I don’t know why; I just think it’s about time someone called him out on one of these interviews. Yeah, Toffolo won’t be a manager.”
He didn’t stop there either.
“Worst dressed player? Toffolo, without a doubt. What else do you have?”
Always late for training?
“Toffolo. Anymore? I’ll save time, any like that, just put Toffolo. He’ll appreciate it.”
Make sure you grab a programme to see if he actually did appreciate it and to find out which of his teammates Toff hung out to dry ovr being late for training.