Imps Linked With Swoop For 27-Goal Striker & Exciting Under 21 Prospect

Credit Graham Burrell

The Belfast Telegraph has linked the Imps with a summer double swoop, but the names in the frame are not new.

The first of the players is a goal machine; 24-year-old Lee Bonis. That might sound familiar to you – Bonis was linked with the Imps back when he was just 21, in the summer after Michael Appleton’s side were defeated in the play-off final. Bonis is a striker of some repute, and it feels to me like he could be a target if (and it’s a big if) we were to be promoted.

Why? Well, last year he signed an extension to his contract with Northern Irish side Larne, who were valuing him at around €300,000 (£257,000). That put off chasing clubs, thought to include Derby County, Dundee United and Bolton. Prior to that interest, Blackpool, Birmingham, Wigan, and Portsmouth had al been credited with watching the striker.

Why such hot property? He’s recently been called up to the Northern Ireland squad, but his record at Larne has been sensational – he’s hit 27 goals in 41 matches across all competitions, which includes a goal in the Champions League against HJ Helsinki, albeit a penalty. He’s bagged 16 in the league, and recently smashed four past Glenavon, including three inside 11 minutes in the first half.

Bonis is primed for a move to England this summer, his form will have attracted a lot of attention, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of that attention comes from the Championship. That could also be the case with Dylan Sloan, a player we were linked with back in October.

Sloan, who plays in midfield, has been a key figure for Larne this season as they seek to retain the title they won for the first time last season. He’s more of a ‘prospect’ perhaps than Bonis – while the striker is proven in the NIFL Premiership, Sloan is a relatively new face, having broken through last season. He’s 19, and not entirely unlike Senan Mullen, the youngster we came close to signing in the winter, only for him to move to Torino. Sloan was recently called up for his country at the Under 21 level, which also underlined his potential.

Both players would pique my interest and add value to the current squad. I know there’s some criticism that we only seem to shop in Ireland (completely unwarranted), but this is Northern Ireland, not somewhere we’ve signed lots of players lately. However, the fact Jack Moylan, Sean Roughan, Danny Mandroiu, and Dylan Duffy are key members of the first team squad, all signed from Ireland, suggests that recruiting from across the sea, north or south, is a strategy paying dividends. Remember, we were also close to both Mullen and Trai Hulme, the latter now becoming hot property in the division above us.

I’m not 100% convinced that both players are targets for a League One Lincoln City, and certainly not Bonis. I suspect he’s on a collision course with the second tier, and judging by the videos I’ve watched on YouTube, he’s a fox-in-the-box style player who doesn’t look all that different from Joe Taylor, in terms of being able to finish succinctly and sniff out a chance.

On the other hand, Sloan feels more like a prospect, a Jack Moylan or Dylan Duffy figure, both of whom add significant value to our current squad. I could see us bringing him over if we remain in League One.

If we remain in League One‘. Oh, how those words would have read very differently three months ago!