Full Squad Assessment – A Guest Article

Courtesy Graham Burrell

As we are now past the January transfer window I thought I would cast one eye towards next season, writes Andy Chapman.

Now MA will 100% have already done this and I obviously trust any decisions he will make over the summer to prepare us for another season of League One football (which I already see as an absolute certainty) but even so I thought it would be interesting to look at the squad, who we have and who we probably won’t have come next season, and see where the gaps appear.


Josh Vickers

Appearances: (for the sake of this article I will be listing games played this season only) 33
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: Contract extension
Even though his contract expires in the summer I can’t see him going anywhere, hes been an ever present for us so I think he will be re-signed to a new deal, who he is joined by will interesting though and I think Vickers will have some real competition for his job next season.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Charlie Andrew

Appearances: 0
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: No new deal
As far as I can tell he’s come in on a short term deal to make up the numbers. Can’t see it leading to any sort of new contract unless he really impresses in training and we can’t resign Vickers.

Grant Smith

Appearances: 0
Contract Status: On loan at Boreham Wood until the end of the season. Contract expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: Allowed to leave
I think he will be snapped up by a League Two team and will do very well for whoever they are.


Jason Shackell

Appearances: 26
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: No new deal.
Not wanting to be over critical of a player who has done very well for us in his time at the club but Shackell won’t be here next year. He just doesn’t fit the style of defender than MA is looking for.

Cian Bolger

Appearances: 27
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2021
Verdict: Contracted through next year.
Cian will be here next season, who he will be partnering in central defence is a mystery.

Imps v Sunderland – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Akeem Hinds

Appearances: 0
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: No new deal.
Similar to Andrews, he’s come in to provide cover on a short term deal and unless he impresses in training, I don’t see him being offered a longer stay at the club.

Timothy Eyoma

Appearances: 0
Contract Status: Loan until the end of the season
Verdict: Return to parent club.
Obviously haven’t had chance to see him play, but that might change within the next couple of games. Seems to fit MA’s philosophy so if a deal is possible beyond the summer I wouldn’t be at all surprised but that will be down to Tottenham and their long term plans for him.

Max Melbourne

Appearances: 7
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2022
Verdict: Contacted through next season.
Max will be one of three defenders guaranteed to be here next year and will be looking to lock down the left back position.

Neal Eardley

Appearances: 33
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: 1 year extension
As much as MA wants to bring youth into the squad I think we still need a sprinkling of experiences heads and Neal is a prime example of an experienced head who should be kept in the building. The only think that may stand in the way here is Aaron Lewis and who is made first choice right back going into next year.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

Aaron Lewis

Appearances: 2
Contract Status: Expires 30th June 2021
Verdict: Contracted through next season.
I love Neal Eardley but I think Aaron Lewis deserves a chance at right back and, if given that chance, I think there is every possibility he doesn’t relinquish the position.

Ben Coker

Appearances: 0
Contract Status: On loan at Cambridge United until the end of the season. Contract expires 30th June 2020
Verdict: No new deal.
Ben Coker won’t be here next season, after his injury hit career I just hope he can find somewhere to get back to playing football.


  1. Disagree with your verdict on Vickers, Anderson and Bolger, wait and see on that one, also is Lewis a right back ? why should he wait to replace Eardley, an attacking right midfielder or winger more like.

    • Eardley is the interesting one for me, all depends what MA views as the best position to play Lewis, if it is right back then maybe Eardley goes, of its right midfield then maybe Anderson is allowed to leave?

  2. Interesting. So this review suggest that we are expecting significant new signings in the summer..

    I am a little concerned that the ‘great Appleton transformation’ should not extend too far into next season. We need to see the light at the end of the tunnel quite early in the 2020-21 season. For that reason, I would like to see the players who will definitely be with us next season getting regular football over the next 2-3 months

    • I think there will be a huge influx of new signings, totally agree though that any of the young players that Appleton sees a starters for next season should be getting as much game time as possible before the end of this year. Players that immediately spring to mind are Edun, Scully and Lewis.

  3. Also disagree with Vickers, think he will go and will get in someone else. Lewis as a right back I can’t see and without a goal not sure we would be talking about him staying. Biggest shock is Scully as a dead cert, not seen enough out of him from three games to say.

    Thought provoking article, I like it.

    • Glad you enjoyed the article! It will be interesting to see what happens with Vickers bit I think Lewis and Scully will be part of the plans for next year. I’m hoping we use these remaining games this year to get them as much game time as possible to get a real idea of the ability they both offer.

      • Completely agree with this, now is the time for them to get some games under the belt for next season when there is little to be lost

  4. On good authority Anderson was offered a deal at millwall in January which he turned down so wether hes here next season ? Scully Bridcutt and Edun look good acquisitions to build on

    • I read the same things, I just think if he wasn’t part of the longer term plans then he would have been allowed to leave in January. Really hope we make Bridcutt a permanent signing.

  5. I think it’s a pretty fair estimate of the current squad. I wish we hadn’t got to rely so much on loans to get quality into the side e.g. Joe Morrell (who really should be in the Championship). Rich Harvey is spot on asking that the players who will definitely be with us next season get regular football over the next 2-3 months. Like it or not, they are the core of the team who will bring the “Appleton System” to fruition. Never mind “significant signings” to come, when is the present outfit going to “click” to get us a couple of decent wins to make us safe and secure in Div One? That’s bugging me!

    • We definitely need a big player to replace Morrell as he has been immense. We’re seeing the issues of losing a key loan player now with Walker missing, I think making sure Bridcutt remains at the club into next season would go a long way to filling that hole. I think the game at the weekend could be a turning point based on the post match comments. I’d like to see Scully, Edun, Lewis, Melbourne and Elbouzedi getting plenty of game time between now and the end of the year.

  6. MA has said before that he doesn’t want to rely on loan signings and has accepted that we are too reliant on them at the moment. I’m hoping we can build a good 22 man squad of perm signings with maybe 2/3 max loans to fill a couple of gaps/ provide cover to give us max squad size of 25, with maybe 2-3 of these loaned out for experience at any one time. Ideally I’d like to see the norm next season being we have no more than 2 loan players in our first 11 at any time.
    Largely agree with your assessment, although like a couple of others I could see Vickers being replaced – love the guy but has been exposed a few times recently.
    Enjoyed the article btw!

    • Thanks for the positive comments! Totally agree about loan signings, whilst it is a useful tool we need to not become reliant on this players otherwise we’re in danger of recalls happening as they have this season with Walker.

  7. I know MA has his plans for developing the team but I am surprised that he let go of O’Connor and is not interested in Pett and Frecklington. I don’t get to many games but watched a lot on I follow last year and I always found those three to be consistent performers, when fit. That’s the problem with young loanees, they sometimes lack the consistency and those few minutes when they ‘drop off’ can cost games.

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