Liam Bridcutt has been talking to me about the Imps challenging opening to the season, amongst other things.
The former Sunderland and Leeds midfielder re-joined City over the summer, being installed as club captain, but he’s revealed by the Echo to be carrying an injury that could rule him out for a few weeks. Despite that, he told me he is ahead of schedule thanks to the medical team.
“I’m ahead of where I should be,” he said, speaking to me ahead of this weekend’s clash with Crewe. “I’m doing really well; the medical team have been brilliant with me. The manager is brilliant, he won’t force me back quicker than I need to be, and he understands the situation with the injury.”
Bridcutt has been made club captain and has helped the management team oversee the collation of a fresh squad of players. In his programme notes for the Oxford encounter a week on Saturday, the 31-year-old reveals his key influences in the role, as well as how he sees his responsibilities as skipper. One thing he has recognised is how quickly the fledgeling squad has come together and taken the manager’s philosophies on board.
“The squad has settled really well; the manager’s sessions have been good and the lads have clicked quite quickly. I wasn’t expecting the group to come together as well as it has, but we’ve gelled quickly.”
That training has seen the Imps rack up two pre-season wins, against Scunthorpe (4-0) and Nottingham Forest Under 23s (2-0). There have been evidence of the practice being put in, something Liam feels is evident in the displays.
“In terms of the games we’ve played, I think we’ve put into practice the ideas the gaffer has been putting across in training. The lads have taken everything on board, but the main thing is they’re all willing to learn and take things on board.
The season kicks off this weekend in the Carabao Cup against Crewe, then Scunthorpe visit in the EFL Trophy before a tough opener against beaten play-off finalists Oxford United. With Charlton Athletic visiting before September ends, and a tough trip to Blackpool in early October, The Imps have a tough opening few matches.
That isn’t something that phases Liam, who won’t be making promises about going on runs, rather dealing with each game as it comes.
“I think every game is important, every game is going to be tough. We’re not going to start talking about going on runs early doors, there will be stages where we’ll dip, we know that as a group, it’s all about how you deal with it and overcome it.”
Whilst League One presents a challenge every week, one thing is clear; the lads just want to get back out on the Sincil Bank turf.
“Every game is going to be tough,” Liam added. “But since lockdown, we’re all just dying to get back on to the pitch and playing football.”
The rest of my interview with Liam will appear in the matchday programme for the Oxford game, details of which will doubtless be announced by the club in due course.