Could Virtue Be Back For Oxford United Clash?

Credit Graham Burrell

The injury news yesterday wasn’t great – the Imps will be without Adam Jackson and Joe Walsh tomorrow, whilst Lewis Montsma is suspended. We’ll be down to the bare bones at the back, which is really saying something considering we have six League One quality centre-backs.

However, it wasn’t the negative news I wanted to focus on today. Lewis Montsma will be back for Oxford at home a week on Saturday, and with a little bit of luck, we might see another key figure from the early part of the season return to the fold – Blackpool loanee Matty Virtue.

Virtue limped off in our game against Ipswich on January 2nd, with an estimated ten weeks on the sidelines. We moved for Ethan Erhahon in the winter window, which many assumed was partly in response to Virtue’s injury, but now a month later, we’re facing the real possibility of seeing the pair together in Imps shirts as we enter March.

Credit Graham Burrell

Speaking to the club’s YouTube channel about Virtue, Mark Kennedy said “His progress is really good, and he should be back training with us next week, We just need to be mindful of the injury he’s had – he had a significant hamstring injury. He’s not going to be available on Saturday or Tuesday but not far off thereafter.”

All of the other news has been around the comments Mark made about trying to sign Matty in the summer, with the 25-year-old out of contract at Blackpool, but the Tangerines hold a year option.

When asked if signing the former Liverpool trainee was something he wanted to do, our head coach said: “We’d like to. We think a lot of Matty. We like all of our loan players, but they’re all in different stages of their careers.

“Matty is on a free at the end of the season. He’s enjoyed his time, and we’ve loved having him here if we could continue that relationship, we’d love to. I don’t know if Matty will have other options. I don’t want to say better options because we’re a great club, but if somebody in the Championship wants a Matty Virtue, then clearly that would be more attractive to him. But I’ve no doubts he’s enjoyed his time here, and we’re a club he’d be really keen to continue his relationship with.”

Credit Graham Burrell

These are two great bits of news. The first could see a really solid midfield pairing created for the final months of the season as we rubber-stamp what I think will be a comfortable mid-table finish. The other shows an intent on signing good players with experience to blend with our youth. Matt Virtue and Ethan Erhahon, on paper at least, would be an immense pairing for the club. There’s no indication it is definitely going to happen beyond May, but as a football fan, you have to have dreams, don’t you?

Either way, both players could feature against a struggling Oxford a week on Saturday, and even if that doesn’t happen, you’d hope when we take to the field against Exeter, we’re able to pair the two for the first time in what will hopefully be a long and fruitful midfield duo for the Imps.