Is youth the answer to our centre back situation?

Sean Raggett was today handed a three match ban which rules him out of our FA Cup tie on Monday with Oldham. With injections to try and deal with Jamie McCombe’s ongoing injury worries, and Callum Howe now being cup tied it could mean we see a youth team player given a chance, at the very least on the bench.

We know Danny likes to have his younger players in and around the first team, and it’s no surprise that the names in the frame are all more or less already known to Imps fans.  All three of the ‘main contenders’ have already been on the bench already this season, all in the FA Cup.

jack-weatherell-competes-for-the-ball-in-the-u21-fixture-v-cgb-humbertherm

Jack Weatherell nods the ball away

 

Jack Weatherell would be an interesting choice. He was called up to the first team squad for the Altrincham tie, and he even played for the youths in the morning before coming off at half time.

Speaking to the academy website earlier this season he said:

“As a scholar at Lincoln City, I really enjoy the opportunity to train and play with the first team, so being called up to the squad for the FA Cup was a fantastic experience for me.”

“Before the FA Cup tie against Altrincham, we had a youth team league fixture against Grimsby Town. I prepared in the same way as normal for every game, and I was substituted in the second half so I could prepare to travel back down to Lincoln.”

Jack is a centre half who scored at Worksop in  pre-season, and he netted in the U21’s 5-1 win away at Humberstone recently. He’s featured for the U21 side as well, so has experience of playing on the same pitch as senior professionals.

luke-andersen

Luke Anderson

 

Luke Anderson is another second year youth player who has been seen on the Imps bench, seen on both occasions against Guiseley. Again speaking to the academy website this season, he spoke of the benefit of being around the senior players in those games:

“I have really enjoyed playing in the U21 league so far. It is good to play against different teams and with it being U21s it is a more physical test than what we are normally used to.”

“I have also enjoyed training and playing with the Pros, an experience from which I have learned a lot. We now have two wins from our first two games and we have played well in both so I hope we continue this as the season progresses.”

jack-fixter

Jack Fixter

 

Jack Fixter is the other player who may well be in the frame. He played his first season with the youth team as a centre half, but has recently been playing right back and even in midfield. Would Danny and Nicky push Brad into a centre half role and play Jack at full back? I can’t see it myself, but his versatility does offer an option.

All three players have played in the U21’s which means a degree of ‘senior’ experience. All have trained with the senior team at some point. I’m informed that they are called up to sessions that include patterns and style of play, in order to ensure they know what is expected should the need occur. The need may be occurring.

Of the three it would seem as if Weatherell may be the player to step up, at least on to the bench. I would imagine it is likely that Jamie will step in to play from the start, so maybe we could see Weatherell and Fixter amongst the subs. We are by no means facing a crisis, but missing players such as Raggett and Howe is a blow nonetheless.

jack-fixter-on-the-stretch-in-the-pre-season-fixture-with-leicester-city-youth-team-friendly

Jack Fixter: If I kicked that high I wouldn’t be able to move for a week afterwards.

 

I think the Raggett decision was fair enough. I’d imagine looking at the footage we’ve either decided it isn’t conclusive enough to prove innocence, or perhaps it was just a dangerous challenge. There was no intent, but these days simply going in over the ball is enough to see you punished severely.

I’ve also got no complaints with Callum Howe being cup-tied. Had he not got a run of games as he did at Southport we may not have had the sharp player we’ve enjoyed the last couple of games. His presence contributed significantly to our win Tuesday night and he’s been immense since he returned.

One thing is for sure, if our youth players do get called up then they will be well equipped to hold their own amongst the senior players, having had that experience before.

Thanks to Derek Priestley for his input, and for the pictures

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