Lincoln City had a former Premier League player on trial last night in their penultimate pre-season friendly.
They appeared to have Nico Jones playing as they went down 2-0 to local rivals Grimsby Town. Jones, who has been with Brentford for the past two seasons, found himself a free agent at the end of the campaign and is now looking for a new club. The Imps, who finished 11th under Mark Kennedy in League One last season, are in the market for a centre-back following the departure of Regan Poole.
Managed to get 1 of the 3. Number 16 is Nico Jones of Brentford B. pic.twitter.com/TLgElwK0JG
— Lep (@xLepebble) July 25, 2023
The 21-year-old began his youth career with Fulham, before switching to Oxford United. He earned his first professional deal with the U’s, spending time on loan with Oxford City and Havant and Waterlooville, but appeared just eight times for them before being released. He did have the distinction of becoming the club’s youngest-ever captain, aged 19 in an EFL Trophy game.
He was picked up by Brentford to play in their B Team, which is where he has spent the past two seasons. He played 61 times for the Brentford second-string, and made the bench for a mid-season first-team friendly, but did not do enough to earn a deal and was released at the end of last season.
He is also a former Ireland Under 18 international, with the Imps particularly enjoying obtaining players from Ireland. Dylan Duffy, Danny Mandroiu, and Sean Roughan all have Irish youth honours, whilst Anthony Scully and Zak Elbouzedi have also recently appeared for their country whilst Imps’ players.
The Imps lost their friendly 2-0, but started the game with three trialists and a number of youth and fringe players in the squad. They play once more, against Rotherham at home, before commencing their League One campaign with a tough trip to Bolton Wanderers a week on Saturday.
The youngster was one of three trialists appearing for the Imps last night against a strong Grimsby side, and none truly stood out. There are unconfirmed reports one of the trialists was Armstrong Oko-Flex, but that seems unlikely given his impact at Swansea last season.
As for Jones, he looked comfortable, but not spectacular. The Imps will be in with a shout of a top-half finish this season, and they appear to have four central defenders who would all be ahead of the former Brentford man. Would they take a risk on a fringe player, or will their recruitment be geared towards improving their first-team offering?
I feel it will be the latter, which may mean Jones’ appearances in a Lincoln shirt are limited to one pre-season friendly against Grimsby Town.