There seems to be quite a bit of news around at the moment, and it would be remiss not to touch upon some of the headlines here.
As we amble towards tomorrow’s huge clash with Peterborough, there is concern around the first team players who may have been struck down with Covid, which is where we’ll start. We know Michael Appleton has suffered in recent weeks, but he will be back in the dugout after completing his spell in isolation. However, he revealed in this morning’s press conference that ‘quite a few’ staff and players will miss tomorrow’s fixture.
“We’re going to be missing quite a few staff and players,” he said this morning. “The club have asked me not to mention any names because of privacy issues, but the club are going to put out a statement. If we’d got one or two more [positive tests], it [the game] would have probably been in doubt.”
The game is not in doubt, however, so one would assume that given our squad size, we can expect maybe four or five players not to feature. That is an educated guess and at present, no names have been released, but we don’t expect to see Harry Anderson come back into the side after he was forced to self-isolate last week ahead of the Wimbledon win.
Whilst it would be easy to get angry about having to play the game, we have to face up to the fact we capitalised on the Dons misfortune last weekend, and therefore this is just the boot switching to the other foot. Nobody wants to play games under duress and I’m sure in an ideal world, we would have had the game called off, but there’s the added complication of it being on Sky too. In this disrupted season, we have done well not to be where we are without major incident, and this is perhaps just ‘us getting ours’. I know there will be some who feel the game should be called off with any positive tests, especially as Grimsby had a game called off after just one test. It would be crass to start calling ‘inconsitency’ though, after we happily turned over the Dons last week.
We are due to travel to the New Meadow (as it was called) next weekend, but there’s every chance that will no longer be the case. Shrewsbury have had to call off their game against Southampton in the FA Cup, and they have closed their training ground after an outbreak of Covid, clearly one that runs far deeper than our own. That throw into doubt our trip there next weekend, which could be a good thing. If we are missing key players, which we have yet to find out, then a visit to an inform side like them wouldn’t be in our best interest. On paper, that is a game we need to be winning, and it looks like we’ll be given the chance far deeper into the season than we currently expect. Of course, these are odd times and situations are fluid, so the game may yet go ahead.
Next up is the news that the club is looking for a new side for Aaron Lewis. He’s been out on loan at Newport County and it sounds as though he is very much surplus to requirements. Aaron has only played a handful of matches for the Imps, and his loan spell was doubtless designed not only to give him a chance to shine but also earn a deal with the Exiles. That didn’t happen and Jez George told local media the club are now trying to find a new team for him.
“Aaron’s back with us,2 he told Lincolnshire Live. “At one point, we thought the move to Newport might become permanent. That hasn’t happened so we’ll continue to look for options for Aaron and try to help him find the right one. If you look at how the team has evolved and TJ’s performances over the first half of the season. Aaron’s gone out on loan and hasn’t played much. I just think he needs to play football. We’re trying to find a few options and solutions for him to be able to do that.”
In my mind, that is pretty much a ‘thanks but no thanks’, in much the same way it was when we vowed to find Jordan Adebayo-Smith a new team. My feeling is we won’t see Aaron in a Lincoln City shirt again, which is not wholly a surprise to me. Having had a chat with a club source earlier in the year, it did sound as though Aaron had been left behind a bit in pre-season in terms of fitness, application and progress, which is why he dropped quickly down the pecking order. I think there’s a decent player in there, one who can offer a League Two team plenty going forward, but I strongly suspect his time with Lincoln City is drawing to an end. It brings me back around to speaking to Michael earlier in the year, where he said something along the lines of ‘if the players fail, it won’t be my fault’ – he gives them the training, guidance and environment to succeed, if they don’t the club isn’t to blame. I know fans of players such as Ellis Chapman might disagree with that, but in this instance, I think it is probably accurate.
It’s the will they, won’t they saga of the winter that press on either side of the divide have been getting clicks for fun out of. If I had a pound for every ‘will Forest recall Brennan Johnson’ article I’d read this season, I’d have enough for a PlayStation 5 without a doubt. Well, the date is finally coming around and it seems that the Imps are fairly confident that we won’t be seeing the back of him, after all.
“There’s a window that the clubs have agreed on that they’ll let us know by,” Jez George said, as reported by Nottinghamshire Live. “Once that expires, we’ll all breathe a little bit easier. We’re respectful that they allowed Brennan to come here, and we’ve had really good dialogue with Gary (Brazil, Forest’s director of football development) throughout the whole process. “We had a formal review of his loan three or four weeks ago. We’re delighted with Brennan. He’s enjoying his football and we’re really hopeful that we can keep him.”
Look, I’ve made no secret of the fact I think articles speculating on whether he stays or not were awry and it led to a rather alarming exchange with one journalist who wrote an article about it back in November. I’ve seen in recent weeks people getting angry on social media, saying these loan deals are for a year and we should stick to them – let’s be honest, without the media fuelling the flames, we wouldn’t have had that apparent ill-feeling, would we? He may be recalled, he may not be recalled, but we know more right now than we were ever going to know in November. The noises coming from the club are good and a Forest fan I know suggests they’ll be streamlining in the window, rather than taking people back for the sake of it. I just hope we get to see Brennan Johnson in a Lincoln shirt for the next few months, with Morgan Rogers on the other flank – that’s a frightening combination on paper, for sure.
Finally, in ‘non-Lincoln’ news of sorts, it would appear as if Sam did enough to earn a contract with Grimsby. The noises coming out of Cheapside this morning (that’s their training ground) are that he will be penning a short-term deal until the end of the season. I just wanted to stress how utterly delighted I am for Sam. He is a lovely lad, we met at the release of On The Road With Lincoln City and nobody deserves another chance in the game as he does. His injury hell appears to be over and a fully fit Sam Habergham is certainly good enough for League Two, without a doubt. I don’t even care it is with Grimsby (or little Lincoln as I like to call them). With Luke Waterfall, Duncan Idenhen and Matt Green, they do have a familiar look about them these days.