City travel to Burton Albion tomorrow and once again, we’re talking injuries, rather than anything.
Again, Michael’s team selection will be determined not by performance, but by who can make the team. It’s becoming beyond a joke now, beyond a ‘if we get a bit of luck’, and verging on the ridiculous. I’ve known City have injury problems before, but I’m not sure we’ve had anything on this level during my lifetime, certainly not as sustained and prolonged.
So, who is injured now? We’ve had confirmation of three players, so we’ll deal with those first and what I think might happen in their place. I attempted to do this with a video earlier today, but living in the sticks made the quality so bad that I aborted and enjoyed my walk instead.
Maguire is out, injured in the warm-up on Saturday. He went into the game carrying the injury, and came off having been partly to blame for the opening goal, not tracking the runner who delivered the cross that Bonne
illegally scored from. The news is that he’ll be out for a couple of weeks, but it isn’t really a loss right now. He’s appeared for 126 minutes this season, only Max Sanders has fewer, and it is hard to recollect anything of note he’s done. Sure, there have been moments where you think ‘he’s got a bit about him’, but they’ve been a few and far between. We also have a replacement ready to go: Hakeeb Adelakun had scored two in two before being dropped for Maguire against Rotherham, and I think he was hard done by. I expect he’ll get the start and perhaps, we’ll be better for it.
Tom Hopper misses out as well; he’s one of only two fit number nines we have on our books so, on squad depth alone, it is not a great place to be in. It’s his second spell out injured this season, he famously missed the Oxford defeat and we went into the game with no number nine. It’s painful, but with Tom out again I think I can count on one hand the number of months we’ve had two nines fit and ready to go since the beginning of last season. Tom is everyone’s favourite scapegoat, yet even the most optimistic of fans couldn’t say he’s had a strong start to the season. In terms of shots per 90 minutes, he’s behind Sorensen, McGrandles, Fiorini, Bishop, N’Lundulu and a host of others. We will miss his hard work and his experience, but it might be the chance one player has waited for. Dan N’Lundulu (another who has had two spells out injured), has only played 178 minutes, but is third in terms of shots per 90. He will surely get his chance at nine this weekend and who knows, we might get a bit of luck and find ourselves a new star.
Bridcutt is 50/50 for the game, and he will be the biggest loss if he doesn’t make it, without a shadow of a doubt. He’s our best footballer by a mile; he dictates tempo, controls the play, and covers our defenders when they push forward. If he doesn’t play, I don’t think we have the strength in midfield to dominate a game. Lewis Fiorini could play there, with Sorensen and Bishop ahead of him, but that trio lacks any real bite for me. I think McGrandles is still injured 9I lose track now), and I’m not sure if Max Sanders is fit or not either. If Sanders is fit, he won’t have the minutes needed to fill in though, so we’re really stuck in midfield.
This list doesn’t include the likes of Joe Walsh, a long-term absentee, or those we haven’t heard a lot about 9Draper and Roughan being two). I’ve mentioned the players who haven’t been fit recently (McGrandles and Sanders) and it’s always 50/50 as to whether Adam Jackson is fit or not. I just get the feeling someone upstairs really doesn’t like Lincoln City; maybe we cost God on his last accumulator or something because the run of luck we’re having with injuries is not just confusing, it feels like a conspiracy designed to keep us down. I know that’s ridiculous, but the way things are going we’re soon going to have to investigate recalling Theo Archibald and Max Melbourne just to put a squad together (although I don’t think either have a recall). I just hope we don’t go out tomorrow with no striker as we did at Oxford because it was an experiment that didn’t just fail, it blew up in our face.