Analysis As Imps Linked With Former Derby County Striker

Forget Saturday; we’ve got to be optimistic and look at a crucial 48 hours for the football club.

We need two in, the bare minimum. We need a central midfielder and we need a striker. Over the weekend, whilst I nursed my way through a Popworld-infused tummy ache, Alan Nixon broke the news we were fighting with Charlton and Barnsley for Luke Plange. This morning, the news is out there that we are ahead in the race. Nixon expects us to have our man before the window closes, to retweet his news with the word ‘aye’ next to it, and with that in mind, I thought I’d have a look at Plange.

Who is Luke Plange? He’s a 20-year-old striker who spent his youth career at Arsenal before a switch to Derby County in 2021. He wasn’t a senior professional at Derby for long – three goals in eight games saw Crystal Palace line up a £1m move, before loaning him back to the Rams. In the Championship, he appeared 27 times, scoring four goals, and appeared for England’s Under 20 team. This summer, he earned a loan move to the Belgian second tier with RWD Molenbeek, where he has impressed with a couple of goals and assists. That’s resulted in Palace going ahead and sanctioning a recall from Europe for a loan move to England.

Despite strong competition from Charlton, it now looks like we’re going to get our man. Firstly, that almost certainly spells the end of Tashan Oakley-Boothe’s time in a Lincoln shirt, which is a shame. He’s never really got going, but surely if we add another loan striker to the squad, he is going to be the unlucky loser. We can accommodate six, but seven? Not a chance.

Plange is an out-and-out striker, a player we would definitely feature regularly, and my gut feeling is selling Tom has triggered this move, rather than it being ready to go before Tom left. My thinking is that with Tom as captain, players might have wondered if they’d get game time. By selling Tom, we can tell Plange, or other targets, that they’re going to get game time. Charlton have Stockley, Bonne, Leaburn and Aneke to name a few – where do you tell Plange he’ll play? If the loan comes off (and if he’s a success), then it’ll be an understandable tactic the club employed last week – risky, but understandable. Of course, if it does come off and Plange does well, people will forget it was a risk we took to secure him.

Wayne Rooney spoke of the player in glowing terms after he scored the only goal for the game against Blackpool last season. “You see his attributes. He is a big lad, he can handle himself and he held the ball up well,” said Rooney. ”He has been playing for the under-23s and scoring goals, and goalscorers on the pitch sniff chances out. I know it is a tap-in, but it is a great striker’s goal. It was not just his goal, either, his work rate was fantastic, some of his movement and runs in behind were really good.“

Will he be a success with the Imps? That depends. We’re going to have to do more than stick long balls down his throat as we did Ben on Saturday, so I guess it also rests on us attracting a central midfielder who can help us solidify in the middle of the park or if we can tuck Diamond and Shodipo in close and perhaps get Mandroiu around them as well. Plange is 5ft 10in so we’re definitely going to have to be playing into feet, which we are capable of but have done much less recently. I do think that’s been a consequence of Virtue coming out of the squad as much as anything, as we don’t seem able to play through the lines. It might even be a catalyst for a 3-5-2, if we get a new midfielder, to have a pair of strikers looking to work goals into the team – after all, I’d be happy to win one and lose on every game until the end of the season, instead of 0-0 draws every week.

Like all transfers (rumours or otherwise), I won’t be judging anyone until I’ve seen them in action. However, news of a striker coming in will hopefully settle a few nerves after Saturday’s performance. Let’s hope for something solid in the next 24 hours or so.