Imps close in on 33-year-old free agent

The Imps are close to signing 33-year-old Alan Sheehan, according to reports.

Those of you who are active on social media will already know former Imps’ reporter Leigh Curtis has tweeted this morning than Sheehan is close to agreeing on a deal; this comes 24 hours after I had it suggested to me he was training with us from someone I trust. Very few people who pass information on are people I’d say are 100% reliable, but when this person suggested Sheehan was with us, I instantly knew he was with us.

I wouldn’t do an article on it though, never just one what someone has told me. However, with Leigh seemingly confirming it this morning, I’ve every confidence that Alan Sheehan is training with us and a deal could be close to being struck. As for the wider implications for our squad, let me put it like this; one of our key title-winning players is unlikely to feature in the first team again.

Before I look at Sheehan, a word on Jason Shackell. I’ve seen lots of comment on him recently, one today suggesting him not playing for us again is great news. I want to remind people what a behemoth he was last season and how well he played in some matches in the early part of this campaign. I’d hate for this notion that he’s been a liability to stick; he’s been one of the players most affected by the new style, although when you look at the actual passing stats he isn’t the worst centre back in terms of distribution. He’s become the latest scapegoat and whilst he hasn’t been as good since autumn, he’s not the utter clown some people seem to want to make him out to be.

Jason Shackell’s last game? – Courtesy Graham Burrell

The reason it would appear Alan Sheehan being linked with us is bad news for Shackell is that he’s a left-sided centre back, also able to play left-back, most comfortable with playing the ball out from the back. He’s no spring chicken at 33, but he has played Championship football this season, four outings for Luton Town before his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Last season, he captained Luton to promotion, the second in successive seasons.

When he was released, Luton boss Graeme Jones had this to say about him: “Alan has been a top professional from the minute I came here. He was injured at the time, but I could see the pride he had in himself and his performance and his career.

“I don’t think I’ve had Alan Sheehan in the prime of his career, and even Alan will admit that. But what I have learned over the last few months is that he’s a leader, a fighter, a winner who has had a huge influence over this football club.

“Me and him have got a fantastic relationship – very honest, very straight and I’ll miss him because he’s a really good, strong character. There’s a bit of old school in him, and he is welcome back at this football club any time he chooses.”

Certainly sounds like the sort of character who will be useful behind the scenes. In terms of experience, he has made 436 appearances across several clubs, with permanent stays at Leeds, Luton, Notts County, Bradford City and Swindon after starting out at Leicester City. He’s been capped by Eire at Under 21 level but didn’t make the step up to senior international football.

It could be argued the best football of his career came in the last couple of years, getting into the PFA Team of the Year in 2017/18 (despite being sent off against us at Kenilworth Road after 4 minutes), as well as winning Luton’s Player of the Year. He had three strong seasons with Notts County in League One, as well as a short spell back there on loan. They love him at Luton, they love him at County and I suspect any short term deal here will see him become popular, albeit as a committed individual who fights for the cause.

That’s what we all want to see, isn’t it? A fighter, capable on the ball but with passion and intensity?

I’m told he’s got great delivery and whips in a good free kick as well and he could offer an outlet on the left sided of defence, or left of a central two. I seem to recall him playing in the holding midfield role for Luton for a while too, making him a versatile option across the back third.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I suspect, if he is going to sign, we’ll see him either on the left of the defensive pairing, with Bozzy on the right, or at left back if we need Tayo in midfield. It could be harsh on Cian Bolger, a centre back who has done little wrong since MA arrived but who isn’t a well-known passer of the ball. I’d hope to be proven wrong of course. The positive implication would be competition for places, something that helps drive standards.

A player of Alan Sheehan’s experience and ability will only be good on the training ground, as well as the competition around the squad, so his arrival will be a welcomed bonus. However, back to Shackell, it would suggest to me that he’s not going to be seen back in a red and white shirt. MA had a team meeting after deadline day and told players ‘this is what we’ve got until the end of the season’, I recall him talking about it after the fact, which means something changed in terms of the squad. That can only be a player who either plays at left back, or the left side of defence, leaving the squad.

The evolution continues and we await any confirmation later in the week.

6 Comments

  1. Glad to see your comments about Jason Shackell. He was one of the reasons we reached the dizzy heights of EFL1 and it won’t be his fault if we get relegated this season

  2. I think there must be more to the Jason Shackell affair than is apparent. He’s made a few mistakes recently and maybe playing out from the keeper doesn’t suit him, but along with Bozzie he has been the fire of our success.
    However we need a few wins at the moment and it is good that our poor form is being addressed

  3. From what Dave writes it would appear that Sheehan’s “best” is someway down the road. Other teams appear to have benefitted. Furthermore, Bolger has been pretty solid in defence of late. Our major lacking has been upfront and it’s got even worse since Tyler went back to Forest. If Sheehan is a centre back who can move the ball forward, create attacking play by laying on incisive, defence-splitting passes then good. But if he joins the “pass it around at the back” crew, then no thank you. We may as well keep what we got.

  4. Apologies Gary. I called you “Dave”. Dave’s the miserable old sod that goes with me to the Bank (and to be fair to him, has done so for the past 60 years. I’ve only managed 20 years – since I moved to Lincoln.)

  5. Could be an excellent signing for you. Highly rated at Luton, couple of seasons left at div1/2 level. Was a popular and highly rated club captain. Definite manager potential in a couple of years

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