Opposition View on Lincoln City: Don't rule out a late push
Boss Michael Appleton has seen his squad evolve since last season’s promotion push and their start to the season has been inconsistent as a result.
We spoke to the Lincolnshire Echo’s Imps reporter Mark Whiley to get the inside track on this weekend’s visitors to the Keepmoat.
Q: How do you assess Lincoln's start to the season and why have they not been as strong as last term?
MW: In the circumstances, it’s not been too bad. Basically, they’re not as strong as they were last season while the competition is tougher. The short-lived salary cap and the fact clubs were being more careful due to the pandemic levelled the playing field somewhere, and Lincoln were able to take advantage.
Plus, last season they had some outstanding loan players like Brennan Johnson and Morgan Rogers, who are both in the Championship now. It was going to be incredibly tough to replace players of that quality.
There have also been injuries to key players. When they’ve had their strongest team out, they’ve looked very good – the recent win at Wigan being a case in point – but they’ve lacked consistency.
Q: What are the aspirations for this season?
MW: Michael Appleton and the CEO Liam Scully have both said a mid-table finish would at least equal last season’s achievement of finishing fifth.
I think the fans would be fairly happy with mid-table although some, due to last season, were expecting an automatic promotion tilt.
As it stands, they look like a mid-table outfit but with decent additions in January – and if they manage to keep key players kit – a late play-off challenge can’t be ruled out.
Q: What system and style of play does Michael Appleton favour and have there been any changes this season?
MW: It’s 4-3-3 again – or a subtle variations of – with the full-backs charging forward at every opportunity and providing the width.
They’re still playing out from the back but will go more direct more often.
Q: Who are the players to watch?
MW: Anthony Scully is the top scorer with 11 goals but he’s been injured recently and may miss out.
Both full-backs, Regan Poole and Jamie Robson, have been really impressive. Robson arrived on deadline day from Dundee as Tayo Edun left for Blackburn and looks to be a tremendous signing.
Homegrown striker Freddie Draper, 17, has impressed off the bench recently. He offers a real physical presence and Appleton has spoken highly of him.
Experienced striker Chris Maguire has been very impressive recently. After an injury-disrupted start to his Imps career, he’s been the main creative spark in recent weeks.