We’re now more than two years into the Michael Appleton era, and despite a few hiccups this season, things haven’t gone badly.
Our squad has transitioned, with many younger players amongst our ranks, and we’ve even sold a couple for good money. One of those, Tayo Edun, is perhaps as reflective of what we need to do as anything, and obviously, not all of our signings have worked out.
Forgive me if I have missed any, but I’ve compiled a list of players signed during Michael’s reign who are now not with us; this includes loans as well as short term deals. Have they enjoyed their time since leaving the Imps? I’ll leave that to you to decide.
26-year-old Jones was an odd one at City. I thought he started incredibly well, grabbed a sensational goal against Bradford City, but he faded quickly after Christmas, and joined ambitious Wrexham in the summer for an undisclosed fee. Consider we got him for free and pulled in some cash, this was decent business by the Imps. Jones hasn’t torn up the National League as you might expect; he has three goals, just two in the league, from 28 outings.
Soule signed for City and scored his debut professional goal on the same day, but returned to West Brom after picking up an injury not long afterwards. Still only 21, Soule spent the second half of last season with his parent club, and recently signed on loan for Cheltenham Town, where he currently has no appearances to his name.
Like you need to be told! Johnson has 11 goals in 37 outings for Forest, and has become one of their key players as they hunt a place in the Premier League. If they are unsuccessful, then the 20-year-old is likely to head there without them; Brentford, Everton and West Ham have been sniffing around, with a few in the region of £20m floated. Mad, isn’t it, that it was only nine months ago he appeared for us at Wembley as we hunted a spot in the Championship.
There will be lots of you who think the West Brom striker must have the best agent in football. He had an unfortunate stint with us, getting injured early on and missing much of the season. He played the lone striker role when he came back and often looked lightweight and isolated. He did okay on loan at Fleetwood earlier this season, netting seven in 17 starts, but that did include a hattrick against Leicester’s Under 21 side. Somehow, he bagged a move to Peterborough in the winter window, again on loan. He has started three of their last five matches, although he came off after just 37 minutes of their 1-1 draw with Derby County.
Alex Palmer was one of last season’s heroes, a great keeper with all the attributes to go on and be a big star. Many assumed he would be the first choice at West Brom, or at least backup, but rather frustratingly, he’s been on the sidelines. The 25-year-old has played just once for them, conceding six in the cup against Arsenal. He’s currently on a short-term emergency loan with Luton, for whom he has a single Championship appearance.
Speaking of emergency loans, Joe Bursik made a solitary appearance for the Imps, but it was quite something; he kept a clean sheet against Sunderland in the play-off semi-final. He had 12 Championship appearances to his name for Stoke going into November, but then picked up an injury that ruled him out over Christmas. He did reclaim his place, but has recently been dropped as Jack Bonham takes over in the sticks. He is still part of Stoke’s first-team squad.
Morgan is still only 19, and after an impressive stint with the Imps, he was linked with numerous Championship clubs. In the end, Bournemouth grabbed his signature, but it’s not been plain sailing for the attacker from there. He was heavily linked with a recall in the winter window, having appeared 19 times for the Cherries, but only starting once. He hasn’t made a matchday squad since January 22nd, as was labelled as trying ‘too hard‘ in a recent report. The last few days have been confusing, as Scott Parker confirmed he has now returned to Manchester City, but technically remains on loan on the South Coast until the end of the season.
Here’s a boy I thought was really unlucky at City; I liked Robbie Gotts. I liked his down-to-earth Yorkshire demeanour, I liked his versatility and I think he’d have made a great permanent signing for us. Sadly, he returned to Leeds last season, and spent the second part of the campaign on loan at Salford City, where he played 23 times, scoring twice. Astoundingly, he joined Barrow in the summer, where he is a regular starter. He is joined there by two other former Imps; Patrick Brough and Paul Farman.
Zack was another who we signed for free, and who we turned a small profit on. He arrived as Michael’s first signing, and despite showing early promise, he never really settled. Last season, he tore up the EFL Trophy, winning Player of the Round twice, but was still allowed to leave the club in the summer. He moved to Sweden’s top flight, and he’s excelled. He scored two in 18 league and cups games for AIK, and appears to have settled well.
Ross played just twice for the Imps, and in one of those games, against Manchester City U21s, his error led to us drawing, rather than winning the game. He fell out of favour after that, and with the emergence of Sam long, was allowed to leave on loan. He spent time with Weymouth before coming back here, only to be released in the summer. He signed for Football League hopefuls Stockport County, where he got a run of games up to and including their 5-3 victory against Bolton in the FA Cup. He hasn’t appeared since in the league, but was recently sent off in the FA Trophy for handling outside of his area.
Coventry arrived on loan in January 2020, but only had two months with us before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We were his first loan, and he appeared just seven times, perhaps excelling once. He’s highly rated at West Ham and was subsequently sent to Peterborough on loan at the start of this season. After 12 appearances he returned to the Hammers and moved to MK Dons, where he appeared against the Imps in our recent 2-1 defeat.
Full back Hinds was one of the first project players to join City, leaving Rotherham after failing to break through with the Millers. His final game for them was against us in the EFL Trophy, but it was the only time he made a matchday squad at Sincil Bank. He was allowed to leave before the 2020/21 season started, and he’s since played for Buxton and Brackley. He is currently with Bradford Park Avenue of the National League North.
I miss Tayo Edun. He has the potential, according to a recent comment by Clive (I think), to become our record sale, should he hit certain thresholds with his current club, Blackburn Rovers. The initial fee was around the £500,000 mark, and he’s already doing well for Rovers; he’s appeared 22 times for them, but is currently out injured, having limped off against Luton Town on January 29th.
We were the first loan deal 21-year-old John-Jules made, and after scoring on his debut, we had high hopes for him. Six further goalless appearances dampened the expectations somewhat, although I think he suffered as much for not being Tyler Walker as he did for his own performances. Still, he eventually picked up an injury and went back to Arsenal. His next loan was at Doncaster, again blighted by injury, where he scored just five times in 21 appearances last season. At the beginning of this season, he turned up at Blackpool, but didn’t make a good fist of his Championship chance. He got another crack at League One football this winter, joining Sheffield Wednesday on loan. After one game, it might not surprise you to hear, he picked up a long term injury.
Aah, Alan Sheehan, a one-game wonder, if you count giving away an inexplicable penalty a wonder. I thought he did okay in his only Imps outing, our 3-2 victory over Burton almost two years ago to the day. In 202/21 he signed for Northampton, where he made 14 appearances, then at the beginning of this season he joined struggling Oldham Athletic. He made six appearances for the Latics, taking his career total to 458, before retiring in January. He subsequently returned to Luton Town as a first-team coach.
Charlie joined the Imps from Hull City and spent time as part of the matchday squad as the ill-fated 2019/20 season wound down. He was released at the end of the season and joined up with Pickering Town, where he’d previously been on loan. He’s now back with the club, but in a non-playing capacity; as of July 2021 he’s the lead academy goalkeeping coach.
Remy impressed during a brief trial at the start of last season, and earned himself a one-year deal. Despite appearing sporadically, he signed an extension to that deal days after missing the penalty kick against Sunderland which cost us a place in the EFL Trophy final. This season, he struggled for form, and after a horror miss against Burton, he was loaned to York City, before being allowed to join them permanently. He’s currently out of action for the National League North club, with details of the reason a little sketchy.
Big Dan looked to be a massive capture on paper, but sadly he struggled during his time with the Imps. he picked up a pre-season injury, was rushed back against Man Utd U21s, and picked up a second injury. When he finally landed in the first team, he often looked out of his depth, despite one or two strong performances. Wigan and Burton away both showcased his talents, but it was too little, too late. He returned to Southampton in January, only to be loaned back to our relegation rivals 9at the time) Cheltenham Town. Sadly, like many on this list, he picked up an injury that looks set to rule him out for much of the season, not least the anticipated return to the Bank on April 18th.