City Snare England Under 21 Keeper on Season-Long Deal

As I walked through Goltho Woods this morning with my Dad, we chatted about players Lincoln might need for the new season.

“I still think we need a keeper,” was Dad’s comment, and generally, I agreed. By the time I got back to a place with a signal, the embargo message was out: The Imps will go into the third season in a row with a loan keeper as the first choice.

Carl Rushworth has joined from Premier League side Brighton on a season-long loan deal. The 21-year-old has previously been involved with England Under 21s, having been called up when Josh Griffiths pulled out in October last year. Rushworth started his career with Halifax as a youth, joining Brighton for his final years in the academy before progressing to the seniors. Last season, he went on loan with Walsall, where he appeared 47 times. During that period, he penned a long-term deal with the Premier League side. Before leaving the BEscot, he was named Fans Young Player of the Season, and perhaps the most respected award of all, the Player’s Player of the Season.

“We are absolutely delighted that Carl has chosen us ahead of a host of League One clubs for this loan,” said Mark Kennedy. “He is an outstanding goalkeeper, with all the attributes to play at the very highest level, and had a really impressive first loan in the EFL last season. We have tracked Carl and made Brighton aware of our interest in him for several months, so we are delighted that everything has now been agreed so that Carl can join the group from Monday.”

The line ‘he turned down a host of other clubs’ is one we see almost all of the time, but in this instance, there’s certainly some grounding. Rushworth had been widely tipped to sign for Derby County this summer, and Portsmouth had been credited with interest also. With 11 clean sheets in 43 league games for Walsall last season, Rushworth appears to be a strong prospect for Brighton, and an asset to the Imps this season. In the past, the stopper has even been scouted by Barcelona.

Of course, he joins the Imps with two good keepers already in place, one being Sam Long, fresh from his spell with Drogheda, and the other Jordan Wright who played 12 times for us last season. There was a big question over which of those might start the season, but it now appears more pertinent to ask which might go out on loan.

“In Sam and Jordan we have two really talented young goalkeepers of our own and we remain committed to their continued individual long-term development,” added Mark, which suggests a loan for at least one of them. My guess would be Sam Long, either to the National League or League Two.

Rushworth certainly commands his area; he was second in League Two for leaving his line last season, which is classed by Wyscout as being when a keeper attempts to actively win a high cross or a long aerial pass in the air, either to claim or to punch the ball. That’s hugely important and perhaps one aspect of our other keeper’s game I had slight concerns about.

As with other signings we’ve made this summer, on paper, this looks like a strong loan for the Imps. Jez George spoke at the event I attended last week about how you get more bang for your buck when loaning keepers; an outfield England Under 21 player is unlikely to be affordable to a League One club, but a keeper at that level, no less talented in his role, is. That’s why it’s no surprise the Imps have moved to add cover in this area.

We welcome Carl to the club and hope he enjoys a successful season.