What does Michael Appleton have to do in the winter window to resurrect the season?

Credit Graham Burrell

Lincoln City are arguably in a tough position as Christmas approaches.

Indeed, 13 points separate the Imps from a play-off position whilst only four points separate them from the lurking relegation places. On the balance of probability, it seems clear that going down to League Two is far more likely than getting promoted to the Championship.

If you bet on football then you will also know this is the case as the Imps are at 11/2 to go down whilst they are at 35/1 to gain promotion. It really is an unenviable position that Michael Appleton and his charges find themselves in.

Concerningly, the latest football tips also predict that Lincoln City will be stuck at the wrong end of the table for the remainder of the season. So what does Imps boss Appleton have to do in the winter window to ensure that Lincoln avoid relegation to League Two?

If you were at Sincil Bank during Lincoln’s loss to Hartlepool in the FA Cup second round then you probably have a good idea of where Appleton needs to strengthen given the altercation that took place at the full time. On this occasion, striker Chris Maguire was the man who took exception to the booing at full time and decided to confront a few supporters which only ended up with more booing and discontent swirling around a freezing Sincil Bank. All in all, it was a day to forget in the East Midlands and Michael Appleton will know that a tipping point was reached as the crowd finally showed their frustration at the lack of goals. It should be stressed that the Imps faithful are completely within their rights to voice their anger, the situation is indeed a dire one.

The long and short of it is that, going into this weekend’s game, Lincoln had only scored one goal in five games and if you’re netting once every 450 minutes then League Two appears in the rearview mirror a lot faster than you can imagine.

 

As far as solutions go, there has been a lot of chat around James Norwood joining from Ipswich in January but the Imps aren’t alone in their pursuit of the striker with Plymouth and Portsmouth also believed to be in for the 31-year-old. The positive for all three clubs is that Norwood is desperate to leave after being frozen out at Portman Road and with 162 goals in 420 professional appearances, Norwood knows where the back of the net is.

But even if the Imps are successful in the race to sign Norwood, that still may not be enough to stave off relegation as one injury could set the Imps back to square one. Appleton should ideally bring in another forward and the Premier League reserves is a good place to start looking as top-flight teams would have finalized their squads for the back end of the season. A young forward like Sam Greenwood from Leeds would be the ideal fit but the Imps would have to promise the parent clubs of any Premier League starlet that they will play in almost all of the games that are left this season. That is something that the club should be willing to do, however.

How Michael Appleton eventually decides to go about his business in the January transfer window remains to be seen but his focus has to be finding goals from somewhere around the country.