News that the Imps are set to lose Tyreece John-Jules until the end of the season is a massive blow to the club, but does it also echo a time that we keep speaking about in hushed tones?
Back in 2011, with ten matches left to play, we lost striker Delroy Facey to injury. Now, with ten matches left to play, we lose Tyreece. Is history repeating itself? Back in 2011 Sunderland recalled Trevor Carson, a player we didn’t expect to lose, much like Forest did wth Tyler Walker.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it really does seem to be one step forward, two steps back at the minute. We sign Alan Sheehan, another defensive option, but now go into the final ten matches with only Tom Hopper and Anthony Scully up top. It’s a really dangerous position to be in squad wise and we can’t even get special dispensation to sign a loan forward, as Barcelona did recently. They are covered by La Liga rules, whereas our loan rules do not allow for such moves.
There is no emergency loan system in place anymore, with the only exception being with goalkeepers who can be signed on a week-long basis in very extreme circumstances. If you’ve only got two fit forwards then you have to live with it.
I’m going to confess that this news has really worried me. Watching Tom Hopper in recent weeks hasn’t filled me with confidence and I can’t see him scoring three or four before the end of the season. Anthony Scully is more exciting, but I can’t see him playing as the nine just yet due to the physicality of senior football. He’s raw, exciting and can get forward, but he looks to be more of a ten for me. That basically means we have Tom Hopper upfront and if he gets injured, we have a square peg in a round hole.
I know some will be lashing out at MA for this, blasting his transfer policy in the winter window, but what more could he do? We were facing the final few months with Walker, John-Jules, Hopper and most likely Scully as well, but now we’ve been hit with two strokes of bad luck. I thought we went into the final months of the 2017/18 season light with Palmer, Rhead and Green, but that’s nothing compared to right now.
I wonder if maybe we’ll look to the free-agent market for some inspiration, maybe a young forward such as Djair Parfitt-Williams, or someone like Rakish Bingham might fit the bill of offering cover if nothing else.
There are two issues as far as I can see; the first is a lack of confidence in Hopper right now. Yes, he’s a good player who has bagged at this level, but he’s struggling to settle and that needs to be addressed quickly. Having seen player slike Tom Pett suffer the same issues, I think we’ll see the best of Hopper next season, but we need points right now.
My other issue is the lack of cover. If Hopper gets a knock, it leaves us looking woefully unbalanced and desperately short of options. I know we could recall Adebayo-Smith from Gainsborough, but he isn’t the answer in the number nine role. We need a robust presence there, someone who can make the sort of runs Tyler makes. In the last home game, two deliveries were begging for a proper centre forward to run onto, but we don’t have that, even with Hopper. There’s no point in creating chances if we’re not on the end of them.
I stand firm by the notion that missing chances is better than not creating them and my fear with Tyreece now going missing is we’re going to struggle to get chances to miss. I hope I’m wrong, but it really does seem as though all the forces in the universe are coming together to make this run-in as difficult and challenging for the club and the fans as possible.
Of course, the perfect antidote to any clouds is a win, which would be a major tonic for us this weekend. However, with so few options up top, I do have concerns about our ability to score goals and therefore win games.
It might be a scary couple of months, even with this so-called cushion of points we have.