Callum Connolly departs Sincil Bank – reaction and verdict

Courtesy Graham Burrell

One of the least surprising departures of the winter has already taken place, with Everton recalling Callum Connolly and sending him back out to Fleetwood Town on loan.

The defender was wanted by the Cod Army before we signed him in the summer and he’s disappeared from view in recent weeks as Michael Appleton has settled on a team. He made his debut as we beat Fleetwood 2-0, impressing in the centre of midfield with an assist and a commanding display. sadly for him, Danny Cowley left not long after and one of his next outings in front of home fans came as we were mauled 6-0 by Oxford, during which a particularly limp tackle of his led to one of the visitor’s many goals.

Since then, I’ve felt he’s been a little unlucky. He got a chance at the back when Bozzy was injured and Bolger got suspended and he put in some decent shifts there. He seemed to be everything we need right now; a defender with a bit of pace and comfortable playing the ball out from the back. That makes his departure a little surprisingly, although it is a recall rather than us sending him back.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

It’s a crucial time for Callum now. Everton fans have already reacted to his latest move with a mixture of disregard and scorn. They clearly don’t feel he has a future on Merseyside and sadly for him, his spell here did little to build up his reputation.

As I’ve said, it is a little harsh on the lad. He is clearly a decent footballer but I fear he is already suffering from being labelled as a utility man. Had he come here as a midfielder then maybe he could have staked a claim to partner Joe Morrell in recent weeks, but with his first impression on Michael Appleton coming against Oxford, he never stood a chance. Besides, why would we develop someone else’s player if one of our own, Ellis Chapman, wasn’t far behind in terms of development?

His shift into defence helped his cause and he put in some good shifts at Portsmouth and Wimbledon. I do wonder if he was held to account for Gillingham’s goal as we went down 1-0 there; they scored after 24 minutes, he came off for Cian Bolger at half time and hasn’t played for the club since. That’s a month and a half of inaction which always marked him out for a recall.

So, what does it mean for us? In real terms, very little. Callum hasn’t been making appearances and one would imagine that a defensive player will come in at some point. If Joe Morrell stays, which I really hope he does, then we don’t need another central midfielder, which I think was most people’s argument with Callum. He came as a midfielder which we didn’t need and he leaves without ever really settling into one role.

The reaction to his departure has been fairly low key as well; few fans seem to be lamenting the loss. I do think he could have offered something at the back, but perhaps MA has seen something he doesn’t like, whether that is in his personality, his application or just his suitability for our style of football, but I doubt there are many tears being shed at the training ground right now.