City face MK Dons this afternoon, and for the second week in a row there’s a feeling of excitement at who could play, not fear at who will not.
In recent weeks we’ve seen Anthony Scully, Adam Jackson and TJ Eyoma return for the Imps, leaving only a handful of players out. No longer can we bemoan having our number nine out, because we’ve brought two in. We can maybe have a whinge about losing our captain, and certainly the only naturally left-sided central defender we have in the squad.
Are they close? Who might we see today? Here’s the latest news on the five players recently out of action for the Imps.
You remember Joe Walsh, right? We saw him for three games earlier in the season, sandwiched between spells on the sidelines. Well, he’s back, or at least he should be by the end of the week. He’s been completing behind closed doors games for City, and last week managed 90 minutes. That comes on the back of a game against Huddersfield last week, and a stint on the field a week or so prior. Whilst Regan Poole has been excellent, and we’ve covered left centre back with Max Melbourne, having Joe back will be huge. There’s every chance we’ll see him today; my gut feeling is he might get a 20 minute run out at the end of the game, ahead of a start against Morecambe. We’ll see, but his return will be every bit as good as a new signing.
You won’t be seeing Liam for a few weeks I’m afraid, and that’s a big blow. I felt the midfield was a problem area against Burton, and that’s something that Liam’s return would combat; only he isn’t returning soon. In yesterday’s press conference, Michael said: “He may need a bit of clear-out in his knee,” said Appleton. “He was with the surgeon last night to get a bit more info, but it looks like he’s going to be out for a little while longer.” I’m not sure he’ll be back in the side much before March, if that.
We’ve been desperate for Tom to return after his freak injury, and it seems we might get our wish. The need for a bustling number nine is not quite as great as it was, and perhaps we won’t be as reliant on him coming back as we were three months ago, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t welcome him coming back. Hopps is back on the grass, and there’s every chance he could be available for selection as early as the end of the month. Whether he can dislodge John Marquis is another thing entirely, but it’ll be great to see him back around the squad.
There’s actually no news about Mags at present. He’s been out since the win against Cambridge, and whilst our new-look forward line has coped admirably, it would still be nice to have King Sh*thouse around the place, in case we need any opposition players winding up. He had an interesting battle with Dean Lewington on Boxing Day, but he won’t be renewing that rivalry this afternoon; at least we don’t think he will be.
Freddie has been the subject of concussion protocols of late, and with the new signings, the pressure placed upon the youngster’s shoulders will have eased somewhat. Whilst nothing official has been announced, Freddie has been playing in the friendlies behind closed doors, which suggests that he’s available for selection. Whether he gets on the bench ahead of new boy Ben House is another thing entirely; I’d be surprised to see him start another game this season. That’s not to his detriment; he’s had first-team exposure and will get plenty more, but it might be a time for him to play a more minor role for a month or two and to take stock of his recent experiences.