‘Steely focus’ – The certainties Lincoln City fans can rely on ahead of return to action
At this most unique time of the year, Lincoln City faces yet another journey into the unknown this weekend.
When returning to League One on Saturday against play-off rivals Blackpool, there are many questions.
Who will be available? How will the team be affected if they haven’t had a game for more than two weeks? Can the Imps hang on a play-off spot?
Trying to predict a team like I would normally do at this time of the week is pointless.
Some of these questions will be answered when Michael Appleton faces the media on Friday morning.
But we have to wait until Saturday before we get a lot of answers. First, when the team sheet is drawn up an hour before kick-off, and second, during the game.
A good start, which hasn’t always been Lincoln’s strong point this season, is crucial against a bustling Blackpool that sped past the Imps on Easter weekend.
However, there are also a number of certainties that can be relied on.
The vast majority of the squad – excluding the injured – should be in full training today (Thursday).
It has become clear that the virus affects people in different ways. Some have recovered faster than others, and much of the game setup is spent assessing the physical condition of the players.
But we also know that the team is excellently trained. When changes have been made for cup competitions, the level of performance has hardly dropped and the incoming players fit in seamlessly and know exactly what their duties are.
And at Appleton, the Imps have a boss who is used to dealing with imperfect preparations – his Portsmouth spell a decade ago was a prime example.
As CEO Liam Scully said this week, “He’s a man who, through no fault of his own, knows how to deal with adversity.
“Yes, this is our first time seeing the pandemic, but this is not Michael’s first rodeo.
“He was in [difficult] We are very confident that he and the staff in the back room will be able to prepare the team as well as possible under these difficult circumstances.
(Image: Andrew Vaughan / CameraSport)
“I also have great respect and admiration for the players for their professionalism.
“They all had to make a number of sacrifices in order to live up to their commitment to the football club and the fans and to give us the best possible chance.
“If you were to ask about the mood in the camp, I would say that the goal ahead is really steely. We finally know what the last nine games will be like and when they will be. We have to roll up our sleeves and move on. “
The players who have only had a few full days of training will not be in top form on Saturday. In fact, it may take some games to get back up to speed.
Time will pass quickly over the next month when the season hits a crescendo. Any slip can be costly.
But it’s not won or broke yet and nothing will be resolved in the next few games.
And again, this team has proven to be more than capable of getting results when they’re not at their best. The Wigan win in February comes to mind, but there are plenty of other examples.
It will be tense, there will be successes and setbacks, but it’s an incredibly exciting time for the club so try to enjoy it too.