The Imps have announced that exciting young keeper Sam Long has penned a professional contract with the club.
Sam has been with the club 15 months, having previously been with Crystal Palace, and he becomes the third keeper in the first team squad, behind Alex Palmer and Ethan Ross. The 17-year-old has come from nowhere this season, impressing both manager Michael Appleton and Director of Football Jez George.
He’s now put pen to paper on a new deal and George admits that although he won’t be challenging for a first-team place right away, there are plans for him to eventually be the club’s number one,
“In Sam, we are signing an extremely talented young goalkeeper with huge potential who has made fantastic progress over his 15 months at the Club. In the short-term, he will not be challenging for a place in our First Team but we have made a long-term commitment because we see Sam as a potential future no.1 goalkeeper for Lincoln City.
“Whenever a scholar signs a professional contract, it is always a team effort and this is no different. Sam’s parents have been fantastic throughout the whole process, from the moment we first spotted Sam playing for Royal Russell School. Numerous staff across the Academy and First Team have also played their part in Sam’s development, but I would like to highlight the role of our GK Coach, Steve Croudson.”
“Steve has been crucial in Sam’s progress, which has really accelerated since our return to training this season, and he will continue to be a massive influence, pushing Sam every day. Sam knows the really hard work is only just starting and this is just the next step in a long journey. He couldn’t have a better goalkeeper coach for what he needs than Steve and, in Alex Palmer, he has the perfect role model.”
Part of the attraction for Sam when choosing the Imps as his future club was the link-up we have with Lincoln Minster School. As Jex mentioned, Sa,m was spotted playing for the Royal Russell School, an independent school in the Shirley area of Croydon. The lure of completing his A-Levels here in Lincoln was a big factor in him coming to Sincil Bank, as he told the club’s official site.
Sam appeared on the bench a couple of times for the Imps at the beginning of the season, and his rise surprised manager Michael Appleton. He told me that since becoming involved with the first-team squad, Sam has progressed very quickly indeed.
“Sam’s been able to get involved with the first team a lot more with Alex coming in late,” he said. “I’ve never seen a keeper come on as quickly as he has in a six-month period. He’s really come out of his shell; he’s suddenly got a real presence around the training pitch and he’s certainly one for the future.
“Ethan is here on a one-year deal looking to establish himself for longer, and we are more than aware that Sam could be ready next season, if not to be the number one certainly to compete for the number one jersey.”
Sam wears the number 31 shirt and is still available to sponsor at this moment in time.
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