City are poised to bring Max Melbourne back from Stevenage as cover during the latest injury crisis.
Melbourne joined Stevenage on a loan deal until the end of the season, but has barely featured under Paul Tisdale. He has just 448 minutes of League Two action under his belt, with his last start coming back in November, as they drew 2-2 at Rochdale.
It could be third time lucky for Melbourne, who has seemingly been cast aside twice by City in recent times. he was told he could find another club after his loan spell at Walsall last season, but returned briefly to the first team at the start of this campaign amidst another injury crisis. Once players returned, he was again told he was free to leave and loaned to Stevenage with the intention of helping him find a deal for next season, but he’s now set for a third spell back at the club.
Lewis Montsma went off injured against Oxford, joining Joe Walsh and Adam Jackson on the treatment table at the EPC. That leaves us with two fit centre backs, albeit both seen as right-backs, in Regan Poole and TJ Eyoma. Max is now likely to sit on the bench tomorrow night against Sunderland, but possibly only as cover.
“He’s been in out and the team, he’s had a couple of good spells, but then you can’t affect it if you’re not in the team,” Michael Appleton told local media. “It’ll be a good chance for Max to regroup and think about his future. We can’t bring Max back thinking and expecting him to be the answer over a long period of time.”
Melbourne is officially the club’s longest-serving player, having joined the Imps under Danny Cowley back in the summer of 2019. That was initially a loan deal, but he earned a full-time contract under Michael Appleton, and briefly looked like being the long-term successor to Harry Toffolo. However, injuries hampered his progress in 2020/21, and he was kept out of the team when fit by Tayo Edun and Sean Roughan. Cohen Bramall’s arrival in the winter window seemed to end Max’s chances of a Lincoln City future.
However, not only can he play left-back, but also left centre back, and with just two fit options there, it makes sense to bring Max back, albeit for six months.