‘He’ll only get better’ – Michael Appleton chats about our defence in another SW exclusive

Credit Graham Burrell

With all the excitement about the Liverpool fixture, as well as the important league game this weekend, it seems a long while ago since I spoke to Michael about the squad.

There is still plenty for me to get out to you, so we’ll start today with Michael’s assessment of the rest of the defence. If you missed the early articles, we discussed the goalkeepers here, then talked about Sean Roughan yesterday.

Roughan’s rise has been swift and he drew plaudits after making his league debut against Oxford, but as Michael pointed out, he wasn’t the only player to be playing their first Football League game at the weekend.

“The fact TJ is prepared to come in after not being involved last year says everything about what he thinks of us, the environment and what we are trying to do.

“He’s got great athleticism and remember; he made his league debut against Oxford too. Everyone was talking about Sean Roughan making his debut, but it was TJ’s too. You almost forget because he’s captained the Under 23s at Tottenham and been at a big club.

“He’ll only get better. He’s a pretty quiet character around the place, but he’s one I feel is reliable. He can play a number of positions and he just comes in and gets on with his job.”

Eyoma was excellent against Bradford too and fans have already begun to warm to the Hackney-born defender. However, another new signing has thus far been conspicuous by his absence, despite scoring in pre-season.

Joe Walsh – Courtesy of Graham Burrell

“It is really unfortunate fans haven’t seen much of Joe Walsh yet as he’s a proper solid citizen,” Michael said of the recruit form MK Dons.

“He doesn’t say much Joe, but when he does it tends to be very dry-humoured. He is just someone who comes in, gets on with his job and defends well. He’s good on the ball, he won’t let you down on the ball and he rarely gives the ball away; his passing is very precise.”

Another player with precise passing, at times at least, is former Dordrecht man Lewis Montsma. He’s already becoming a cult favourite, not least because of two smart finishes in four matches, but Michael thinks there might be something more in it as well.

“Lewis is a fan favourite already, I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with him being six foot four and looking a million dollars! Seriously though, he’s adaptable is Lewis, he’s good with his feet and has a great mentality. He had a period against Oxford where he struggled to find a red shirt, but he came through it and didn’t let him affect him. He’s got decent technique too, but he’s an athlete.”

Lewis came over from the Netherlands in the summer, becoming the first Dutch player to appear for the Imps since another cult-hero, Gijs Bos. As a youngster, some fans might have feared he would struggle to settle, but Michael believes his character has ensured he has adjusted quickly.

“We did a lot of work in the first three weeks of pre-season on how we want to play, patterns of play and positions we want to take up and Lewis adapted to that well. He speaks brilliant English, which helps with settling in, but those who have done their homework on Lewis know he has lived away from home since he was 15.

Fan favourite already – Courtesy Graham Burrell

“He’s made of tough stuff and he’s used to looking after himself and living away from home. He’s been adaptable to the environment and I think the players and the age group of the group have helped him; they all get on well and are mates.

“I knew he really wanted to play in England, we spoke to his agent a couple of times and we worked really hard to get it done. Delighted with Lewis, delighted.”

Finally, for today at least, we move on to a marquee signing from the summer, Adam Jackson. Michael almost seems to be playing him down at first, but the description of the former Hibernian man isn’t unlike that of another defender Imps fans might recall fondly.

“Jacko certainly isn’t the quickest, biggest, or strongest, but he knows how to defend. He defends early because of his experience and he’s a good passer of the ball. He’s good in both boxes too, that’s what he does well. He can score goals, as we saw against Oxford. When I signed him, we talked about him getting the first contact from free-kicks and corners, that’s a strong attribute of his.”

Adam Jackson = Paul Morgan? Let’s hope so – Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Not the biggest, strongest or fastest, but a great defender, nonetheless? That, for my money, sounds a lot like a certain Paul Morgan. After chatting to Michael, I watched Jackson carefully and stature wise, there are similarities between him and our former captain. Morgs was an outstanding footballer for us, he could pass accurately and was positionally always one step ahead. If Jackson goes on to appear in as many play-offs with us as Morgs did, albeit in League One, fans will surely not need my articles to expel the virtues of the 26-year-old.

That’s it for the defence, tomorrow we’ll have a look at the midfielders and find out which of the new boys is considered to be the dressing room ‘character’, despite only being with us a couple of months.