Remember that time everything went well for Lincoln City? No, me neither.
I heard a whisper this afternoon that Alex Palmer might be a doubt for tomorrow’s game, and that has now been confirmed. Ever-present during the league season, Palmer has this week picked up a concussion injury. Protocols dictate that he has to miss a certain amount of days as a result, one of those days being tomorrow. I have been informed that he should be back with the team on Saturday, but that doesn’t help us tomorrow.
As a result, we welcome Josef Bursik to Sincil Bank, a player who not three weeks ago was celebrating against us as his Peterborough side drew 3-3 to earn automatic promotion. Bursik was on loan at London Road, a loan that was completed once their season ended. Luckily for us, that makes him free to come to Sincil Bank at short notice.
The official club statement says: “We can conclude that we have signed goalkeeper Josef Bursik on an emergency loan from Stoke City. The England U21 international has joined City ahead of tomorrow’s EFL Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final versus Sunderland. Josef Bursik has experience at this level having played for Accrington Stanley, Doncaster Rovers and Peterborough United. Josef has also kept seven clean sheets for Stoke City in 15 appearances this season in the Sky Bet Championship. Bursik will wear the number 21 shirt and is available for selection tomorrow night.”
Well, I’m glad he is available for selection tomorrow night, otherwise there wouldn’t be much point, would there? 6ft 2in Bursik is 20-years-old and will be appearing for his fourth EFL club, having been on loan at Doncaster earlier in the season. Whilst at the Keepmoat, Bursik kept a clean sheet against us in their 1-0 win. He went back to Stoke in November after injuries to their keepers and kept seven clean sheets in eight games in December, after making his debut against Huddersfield Town. He was on loan with Accrington Stanley last season, keeping goal for them in the encounter we lost 4-3.
He then joined Posh on an emergency loan following Christy Pym’s injury, where he appeared six times, keeping two clean sheets. During that time, he conceded three against us, his final game for Posh. In November, Bursik made his England Under 21 debut during a 5–0 win over Albania, having previously represented his country from Under 17 to Under 20 level. He was part of the Under 17 team that won the World Cup in 2017, along with TJ Eyoma, and he was England Under 17 keeper when they made the finals of the 2017 European Championship, losing on penalties to Spain in the final.
Bursik is a really interesting character with a rich family history. He takes his name from his war-hero grandfather, a Czechoslovakian icon, and he was a winger until the age of 12, keeping some of his outfield skills. He was lauded by Liverpool keeper Allison after stepping up to take a free-kick for Accrington whilst on loan there last season.
Bursik is clearly a decent keeper and he’s got plenty of senior football behind him aged 20, but this is a big blow for City nonetheless. There is little time for him to get to know our defence, and vice versa, and I only hope we see a bit of the Ryan Allsop in him, a player who came in on loan and performed heroically in a semi-final, not shades of Ross Etheridge, who did the opposite.