The Imps have added to the squad today with the capture of former Manchester City youngster Jacob Davenport on a short-term deal.
I know, right? The first thing I can guarantee you’ll say is ‘but that’s not a striker’. No, it isn’t, but remembering this free agents list, it’s not like there were a lot of strikers out there. It’s clear in the ‘two for every position’ model that Ben House is now classed as a nine. It might save him from performances like Cambridge, where he certainly struggled.
Look, I’m not going to say I think we’re okay up top; I don’t. What I do think is Jacob Davenport could be a really good signing for us. While at Manchester City, he spent time on loan in the Championship with Burton Albion before a move to Blackburn Rovers. He’s had a tough time there, injuries have hit him hard, but he’s still turned out almost 40 times for them in the second tier, which is no mean feat. This summer, he’s had a trial with Championship side Reading and SPFL side Hearts.
Davenport was one of the players I identified earlier in the summer as a free agent I’d like us to sign, so I can’t help but feel a little happy. I don’t think he’s expected to come in and immediately play in the first team, but if Mark Kennedy fancies Virtue as an attacking midfielder playing the eight role, then Davenport could be the cover at six that we need. We’re definitely heavy in terms of midfielders, but it’s also been the problem for me thus far this season. At times, our midfield has looked muddled and disjointed; a fit Jacob Davenport and Matty Virtue certainly add quality and (for me) players with a structure to their game. It just can’t hurt to have a player with significant Championship experience in the side like Davenport.
What I like about the idea of Jacob Davenport is he combines the ability of a former Premier League youngster with a strength and tenacity of a more experienced player. I’m not sure he’s coming in with a view to playing every game between now and January, but if he’s fit, I think that’s something he is able to do.
I know he’s not a striker, I get we’re light up top, and my understanding is the club did explore some free agents, maybe even those on my list. However, I believe most strikers wanted two-year deals on money the club simply did not want to tie up beyond January – indeed, Charlton boss Ben Garner has lamented his team’s search for a free agent striker this week, basically saying the quality wasn’t there. I do get that the free agent list wasn’t full of players you’d hope to sign, and in January, there will be a market for us to tap into, so why tie our hands now? I mentioned Kieran Agard and Joe Dodoo, who were free agent captures last season and did very little; personally, the only player on the list I felt might do a job for us was Sam Winnall, and he joined Burton pretty quickly.
Oddly, I’m actually quite happy we’ve brought Jacob to the club. I feel there’s potential for him to earn a longer deal and develop into a really good player at this level. However, if he doesn’t, it’s a short-term deal, and we can go again in January. It’s perhaps the best outcome from a situation that is less than ideal, and you know me, I’ve been happy to be critical so far this season. However, there is a real sense to this deal which I hope supporters can see.
Plus, you never know, Freddie Draper might just come in and be the player to support Ben House and Tom Hopper up top. Plus, even now, in a period where we seemingly needed a striker we didn’t get, we’re still better off than we were in November and December last year in terms of attacking options.