I suppose it was always going to happen. In the midst of a pandemic affecting millions of people, the football club were always going to be directly affected.
I guess one positive is that we have finally had our firsts tests as we sit top of the league, but that is the only positive we can take from breaking news.
An official statement from the Imps media team this morning says:
“Lincoln City Football Club can confirm that First Team Manager Michael Appleton, and First Team Goalkeeping Coach Steve Croudson, have both tested positive for Covid-19. Both Michael and Steve will be self-isolating until further notice.
“Further Covid-19 tests have taken place with all of those who have been in close contact at the football club, and these test results are negative for coronavirus.
“Tomorrow’s fixture at Plough Lane will take place as planned but both Michael Appleton and Steve Croudson will not feature in the dugout versus AFC Wimbledon, however, Michael will remain in contact with the team throughout the match.”
These will be challenging times for Michael and Steve, as well as for the rest of the management team who will now take the game against Wimbledon tomorrow. Michael won’t be the first manager to miss a game because of the virus, he won’t be the last, but it is the first instance of this bloody scourge making its way into our club.
The other good news is that despite the virus finally getting in, it has not transferred to the playing squad, and therefore we will go to Plough Lane as ‘full strength’ as we can be. Let’s not fool ourselves though, this is a disadvantage. Imagine trying to make a film without the director, letting the actors just get on with it. They can be the best actors in the world, with rehearsed lines and a clear understanding of the film’s emotion, but if something goes awry then the director is needed.
Michael (and Steve) will be watching on, watching iFollow one assumes, which could present its own problems. The batten will be passed to David Kerslake and (one would expect) Liam Bridcutt. That’s an interesting dynamic as Bridcutt is clearly an influential figure around the place and I suspect his involvement tomorrow will be massively important in helping the players prepare as normal and hopefully, keep us top of the league with a win. Tomorrow is a big afternoon as Hull play Charlton and Portsmouth are at Accrington – both of those games are six-pointers in terms of the promotion race meaning we open further gaps between at least two of the teams looking to knock us off the perch.
Sadly, we got there looking to do it with remote Michael and Steve, rather than physical Michael or Steve. It’s a big ask, but hopefully, our commitment players and remaining backroom staff can help guide the good ship Lincoln City through these somewhat uncertain waters.
In the meantime, may I wish Michael, Steve and their families all the best during what is sure to be a challenging time, and I hope the symptoms are not too severe and the recover quickly.