My sources have suggested that the Imps are close to announcing a new signing; Scotland Under 21 international Archie Mair.
Eagle-eyed supporters will have seen the official EFL squad lists included Mair, but the club has not made an announcement. It has been suggested that we may have added the keeper to our ranks on deadline day, and sources now tell me the club are going to announce his arrival imminently.
20-year-old Mair is a Norwich City player, and a Scotland Under 21, although he was left out of their most recent squad. He joined the Canaries from Aberdeen in 2019, and has subsequently spent time on loan with Kings Lynn Town. He is highly rated by the Norwich hierarchy, and signed a new three-year deal in March, ensuring he will remain at the club until 2024.
He appeared 25 times for the Linnets last season, including two matches in the FA Cup, learning from Boston United legend Paul Bastock. In their first-round tie against Port Vale, he kept a clean sheet but returned to the Canaries after picking up an injury in March. Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber was delighted with the player’s progress, saying: “It is a great place for a 19-year-old goalkeeper to go and play, in the Conference – he has so many crosses he has to deal with and shots on goal. He is almost getting a crash course in being a goalkeeper in getting hit, and all those sorts of things, on crosses and things like that, so it is brilliant for him.”
What does this mean for City and, if it is a loan, why are we announcing it now? It is my understanding that Mair picked up an injury not long before we were due to sign him on loan, and I wonder if that might be why it has been kept under wraps. Imagine, given the furore deadline day created, if we’d announced a keeper who was injured until the middle of September, there would have been even more anger than there was after missing out on Morgan Whittaker. I suppose the club could have gone for another target, but it is important to note that Mair is an Under 21; if he gets called up, there’s more chance we will call off Saturday games. Given our current injury predicament, I think a Saturday off for every international break is a wise route to take!
The other key takeaway here is Sam Long; he’s impressed in his two outings in the Papa John’s Trophy this season, and he is surely ready for a spell in senior football. I think I’ve heard it mentioned he will be heading to Gainsborough on a loan deal, which will see him get the valuable exposure he needs. Keepers do often drop much further down than outfield players, look at Alex Palmer; he went to Kidderminster in his early years and was much better physically for it. Sam will certainly benefit from a loan spell and can come back as a viable option for a number one jersey.
Do I see Archie Mair as a potential starting keeper? The honest answer is yes, but I don’t think he’ll displace Josh Griffiths. I think he will primarily be backup for Josh, who has proven his worth and potential in the last two matches. However, I think this is a decision we’ve made with the betterment of our own squad in mind; Sam Long needs first-team games and he won’t get them for us. By bringing Archie in we have a promising keeper of equal talent (or possibly better) to Sam, and a player who helps us get a Saturday off every so often.
I expect Archie to be handed his Imps debut against Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy game in ten days, as it is a great chance to blood a few players in a game where the result really doesn’t matter. After that, who knows?