Could loans from Middlesbrough FC and Sunderland AFC’s development sides be the reason Simmo is biding his time on replacing Vadaine Oliver, now at Crewe and set for a debut? Both the Black Cats & Boro lads hardly looked like kids and look man enough to do a job in our Division and their quality is certainly not going to be a problem.
The Oracle of Optimism chimes in
The passing blend of football certainly impressed Jamie Clapham at Middlesbrough and the Black cats were also very complimentary. Indeed several Boro lads looked more than up to the physical requirements required to do a good job in the Skrill Premier. Young Black Cats Harrison and 9 Lynch would be a handful and Boro lads Jones and Main both impressed at Sincil Bank.
The local media do seem keen to point out the lack of a target man at the Imps, a route B as it were, to add a facet to the passing football that is seeing Lincoln play to feet. Simmo has pointed out the costs that come with such a beast, with proven goalscorers taking up the lions share of the budgets up and down the football pyramid. These are funds we do not have, but friends in high places could be the answer.
The manager admits that he feels the need for a longer ball style game will come when the pitches cut up, but, that he is also in no hurry to change things. Thomlinson battles well, but if and when the Imps change to two up front there are three or four options. Young Black Cats Harrison, who can play up top or in defence and no 9 Lynch could also be a handful. The Boro side also had Jones and Main. Paul Morgan may also be able to put in another word at Accrington who have some powerful lads unable to get games. Bohan Dixon was one.
Sheffield Wednesday have announced a friendly against Rangers and knocked back a bid from Barnsley for unsettled O’Grady with Flitcroft now turning his attention to Donaldson at Brentford FC, someone the Owls could do with. Jones is also being linked with Sunderland AFC free agent Kilgallon and St Ledger, who has no future at Leicester City. With 6 out of contract Dave Jones has funds and scope for movement to ensure the Owls start looking up rather than down in 2013/14.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
There is an optimism surrounding Hillsborough after a season of consolidation following promotion reward for saviour Milan and the grateful Owls. STMI will be following them this season, after being made to feel so welcome by both Owls online (Owlstalk) and in the flesh. They and the cavernous Kop bearing that huge Thanks Milan banner are starting to bounce with 1,000 new season ticket holders already on board. The momentum is growing and, with the weight of expectation akin to that of Atlas, Dave Jones, a master at finding gems, has his work cut out. He has the pedigree to ensure that the Owls are there or thereabouts by addressing some key areas.
Wednesday do need more fire-power up front. The news that Jermaine Johnson will sign an extension will be greeted positively but Gary Madine, Chris McGuire and Chris O’Grady failed to help shoulder the burden largely left to Leroy Lita, as Dave Jones double-six gave way to 4-3-3 /4-5-1. It kept the Owls up, although McGuire got a vital winner at Millwall after the JJ/Lita show in the 3-2 thriller against Blackburn. Barnsley have had a bid rejected for O’Grady, after his successful loan spell but, manager Flitcroft, will allegedly not follow it up on his self professed ‘”no 1 target” and turn instead to Brentford’s Clayton Donaldson or ex-Blade John Stead.
The Owls do have two fantastic wide-boys to supply whoever comes in with some golden bullets. They will welcome the return of Michail Antonio, injured in the spring, next term, he was sorely missed after a great start, leaving JJ with a huge ask. He duly delivered with aplomb, but he is not getting any younger (32), suggesting the need for cover as McGuire and Lee are relatively poor replacements out wide. Mind you Buxton’s runs from full-back are a treat to behold.
The Owls midfield was overwhelmed at times last season, with central midfield quantity being a poor substitute for quality. Semedo is a fans favourite, Lines, Prutton and Coke are tryers, but early season loans at League 1 clubs, suggest the Owls need to invest in at least one midfield general if they are to look up rather than down. Coke (27) has been offered a new deal by Jones this month, but is yet to sign. Rhys McCabe and Paul Cory are still young but would certainly benefit from a seasoned campaigner to help them realise their potential. Cheltenham’s Marlon Pack (22) is on the radar. At first hand he may not be seen as a landmark signing, but he has the quality and engine to take the step up in his stride. The compensation fee would also leave plenty to spare for elsewhere.
Right-back and player of the season Lewis Buxton has just agreed a new two year deal, fantastic on the overlap, his delivery ensures a dangerous and consistent end product for the Owls. Jones is being linked with ex-Sunderland free agent Kilgallon and St Ledger who has no future at Leicester City with favourite Miguel Llera rumoured to be leaving Hillsborough (if agents talk is to be believed). The Owls defence was somewhat overworked at times last season and conceded 61 goals. Llera and Gardner put in some brave performances last year,given the step up and hearts in mouths aside. With Garner’s injury record, Taylor, now 33 and, Llera out of contract, a Fox and Black cat capture could be the stitch in time that saves 9. Left-back Reda Johnson is a fans favourite but Leeds Danny Pugh looked useful during a loan to cover for RJ’s injury. Joe Mattock can play at right or left back but struggled when called on to deputise.
Kirkland was ever-present in his first season and is happy to stay despite rumoured Premiership interest. He will be first choice again, with understudy Stephen Bywater (limited to 4 cup games) offered a new deal whilst the ageing Weaver has been released. As further back-up, if needed, the Owls have Cameron Dawson who is an England U19 keeper. With a full-complement of keepers it leaves plenty in the kitty for a striker to get the Kop out of there seats. Donaldon could be the answer but Mansfield’s Green has surprisingly missed out during a trial at Birmingham. Now he is a gamble who could pay off better than Adam Le Fondre did for Reading.
The Middlesbrough FC and Sunderland FC friendlies may have more to them than first meets the eye. Grant will doubtless have had something to do with the Sunderland game (he hails from there) and ex-Imp Jamie Clapham is currently working as Middlesbrough FC’s Senior Professional Development Phase Coach. STMI’s gut feeling is that Simmo and Grant will use their contacts to ensure there will be some quality trialists from both of these North-East giants, as pre-season training kicks off in little over a month. Ben Futcher (Bury FC Development Coach) might also be able to help us with some loans from Gigg Lane.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
Jamie Clapham, finally managed to play for his home town club, after Tottenham had nicked him from under our noses. Our youth set-up and scouting network has certainly come on since the 90’s, which is a credit to Chris Moyses money, drive and ambition for the Imps. Clapham, just 37, will be keen to blood some of his young charges at a club with a management team that will commit to give them a regular game, just as the Imps will want to use the loan budget to get in some half and, perhaps full-season youth loans. Holdsworth got the loans but oh so many were pulled back, when they did not get a game.
Boro play their reserve and under 18 games at Rockliffe Park, near Hurworth. Clapham is ably assisted by Mark Tinkler and youth guru Stan Dixon, although another ex-full-back Mark Cooper is leaving to manage The Monkeyhangers at Hartlepool. Middlesborough were Champions of the prestigious Central League in 2010/11 whilst the Academy side more than punch above their weight in the FA Premier Academy League. The Imps will need an understudy keeper, although Farman is unlikely to give a loan too much opportunity, so we may not see Luke Coddington, or Shane Bland at Sincil Bank for 5 months. Winger come striker Ross Grosvenor looks useful, as does Charlie Wyke, although he has already spent a season long loan at Hartlepool United. Jake Fowler, Chris Howard and Adam Garrity also have good futures ahead of them. Left back/left winger Adam Reach would certainly fit the six-foot soldier bill – he is already 6′ 5″ and still growing. However he made 9 starts and 9 appearances from the bench last season, so perhaps he is, pardon the pun, out of our reach.
Ex- Grimsby youth team boss Robbie Stockdale is running the youth with Kevin Ball serving as Senior Professional Development Coach. Keeper Jordan Pickford spent time on loan at Alfreton last term and could be sent on loan again. The Midfielders include ADAM REED , ALEJANDRO GORRIN , BILLY KNOTT and WADE JOYCE (click on any name and you will be directed to the official Sunderland site for a pen-pic). The strikers look useful too – ADAM MITCHELL , CRAIG LYNCH , JORDAN LAIDLER and RYAN NOBLE. The under 18’s squad is also worth a glance here and Andrew Cartwright has some Lincolnshire connections, through his dad, that sees him as an interesting dark horse.
Several of these players will be on show in July’s friendlies against Sunderland U21 (Wed 24/7 7.00pm) and Middlesbrough U21 (Sat 27/7 2.00pm). Clearly any kind of tie-up with these two giants would be a massive bonus. Last season was not the time to chance youngsters, as we lacked the leadership on the pitch at times to keep us up, let alone giving any young lads a decent opportunity to shine. However that is changing during an exciting opening phase to the Simpson rebuild at Sincil Bank. With money tight, the loan budget goes twice as far, with old pals acts and favours the name of the game. Perhaps Futcher, another ex-Imp, might also help us out. Bury are going through another financial crisis and it has been of some surprise not to see us make a move for a permanent signing by now. Simmo has been tentatively linked with a Gigg Lane raid.