Return of the Haks – Winger Set For Minutes

Credit Graham Burrell

City manager Michael Appleton has hinted that winger Hakeeb Adelakun could get minutes against Accrington Stanley tomorrow.

Max Sanders joins him in terms of players who have struggled for minutes recently, and those two were mentioned by the boss in his pre-match press conference. We have seen Max a bit recently, not a huge amount, but more so than Haks. Indeed, the most exposure the former Scunthorpe winger has had was in the BMW radio-controlled car challenge that’s been promoted on social media of late!

Max has played 489 minutes since New Year, not a huge amount, but Haks has just 96 minutes of action; less than everybody except Lewis Montsma (injured against Oxford), and Liam Bridcutt (injured all the time). He’s basically the most under-used member of the first-team squad. What’s even more surprising is (arguably) his best Imps outing came on Boxing Day as we went down 3-2 against MK Dons, and the bulk of his 96 minutes came in our 3-1 win at Sunderland, where he chipped in with an assist.

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Why has he been out of the team? I have three games I think I can quote; Morecambe away where he came off at half time after a torrid spell, Carlisle where he came off for a drink during the move in which they levelled, and ultimately secured progress, and away at Crewe where he was anonymous in a terrible team performance. Those three games currently define the Lincoln City career of Hakeeb Adelakun,

Sadly, they also obscure the MK Dons game, where he played a role in both goals, being fouled for the Maguire penalty conversion. They miss out the Cambridge away game, where we won 5-1 and he bagged a goal. They miss out Bradford in the EFL Trophy, where he scored a super goal. The bad performances outweigh the good, and because he’s rarely been seen in 2022, fans might even have forgotten what he can off.

Still, he has three goals and two assists from open play this season; that’s only three fewer than Chris Maguire, who has played twice as many minutes. That’s not intended to disparage Maguire (ten goal involvements, but two from the penalty spot); it’s intended to show that actually, Adelakun has had his moments. Again, those poor performances stand out, rather than the big moments. He was a scapegoat before Morgan Whittaker pulled up at the Bank, and to a degree, his place in the first team has suffered.

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Seeing him back on the field should give fans something interesting to watch in what is a dead rubber tomorrow. I lauded the signing of Adelakun as a game-changer. This is the player who got a big-money move to Bristol City, who contributed to Hull’s promotion in a small part last season, and who I believe has the ability to be a top League One player. I thought he was the marquee signing, the headliner who’d have 15 goal involvements by now and maybe earn a shot at a move, and earn us some coin in the process. It hasn’t worked out like that, but all is not lost.

Imagine, now we’re safe, if he comes in and contributes an assist and a goal in the final two games. Ok, it’s not going to be outright redemption, but it would give fans a little food for thought in terms of next season’s squad. If Michael deems him surplus to requirements then his days may be numbered, but offloading a player who has struggled to impress wouldn’t be easy. he couldn’t move to, say, Scunthorpe, because they’re non-league now, and would a League Two team be able, or willing, to match his wages?

What we have he is an investment that as yet, hasn’t reaped rewards, but there’s a player in there. I’ve said that about a couple of this season’s ‘flops’, and I used that term loosely. Morgan Whittaker is a player I think has the ability to be a top lad at this level, and Haks is the same. The difference is we own Haks, he’s our boy, and hopefully, he can grab his chance in the last two matches and ensure that the final memory fans have of him from the 2021/22 season is a positive one.

Credit Graham Burrell