Lincoln City are currently in the presence of an injury crisis in their forward line, with duo Ben House and Tyler Walker both ruled out for the foreseeable future with various knocks, but could the club be forced to turn to the free agent market and if so, who could they look to sign?
The Imps kicked off Saturday’s League One clash against Carlisle United without a recognised striker in the starting eleven, with winger Reeco Hackett leading the line. However, despite injuries to House and Walker, Lincoln were still able to rescue a point following Ethan Hamilton’s impressive strike after Luke Plange gave the visitors the lead.
A point for Lincoln City has placed them 9th in League One and unbeaten in their previous six league games, with the club also losing just one match in all competitions this season which occurred on the opening weekend of the football season.
However, despite Mark Kennedy’s men experiencing a strong start to the season, Lincoln do have areas in their squad that the club will be keen to correct, with one of them being goals. Scoring goals hasn’t been an issue for Lincoln this season, with the club having nine different league goalscorer’s so far but none of those have came from a striker.
Although I believe that having multiple scorers is better than having one main man, Lincoln City could be keen on having someone who has the ability to take a game by the scruff of its neck and contribute in times when the rest of the team is struggling to create chances.
Lincoln City loanee Jack Vale “isn’t too far away” from linking up with the squad following a long-term injury, but with Tyler Walker out for at least eight weeks, Ben House out for three to five months and Freddie Draper ineligible to be recalled until January, the Imps are noticeably short up-front.
With that being said, let’s take a look at five potential options that Lincoln City could sign to replace the injured trio…
Arguably one of the biggest free agents currently in the EFL is former Crystal Palace forward Connor Wickham, who became a free agent after leaving Championship side Cardiff City in June after his short-term deal expired.
Wickham has made over 300 first-team appearances, with almost 250 of them coming in either the Premier League or Championship. He began the 2022/23 campaign with Forest Green Rovers in League One, where he scored six goals in 16 appearances including a strike against Lincoln in a 1-1 draw.
The 30-year-old remains without a club at the time of writing and is certainly likely to be top of the list if Mark Kennedy’s side decides to turn to the free agents market he also fits the criteria of a player who has the ability to transform a game on his own, but would he be an ideal fit for the Imps?
Admittedly, Olamide Shodipo isn’t a striker but he would create an opportunity for Mark Kennedy to continue playing Reeco Hackett as a striker. Shodipo became a free agent in July following his exit from Championship side Queens Park Rangers.
The 26-year-old will also be a familiar face for the Imps, due to him spending the second half of the 2022/23 campaign with the League One side, making 20 appearances for the club and contributing to four goals, or one in every five games.
Shodipo knows the club inside out and would also be familiar with Mark Kennedy’s tactical approach. Interestingly, according to TransferMarkt, Shodipo has made two first-team appearances as a centre-forward where he scored two goals, but did he do enough to convince Lincoln to consider re-signing him?
Moving back to the experienced side of things, Sam Winnall is another name that Lincoln City could look to consider, should the club be in the market to add an additional forward even if it’s as a short-term option until January.
Winnall became a free agent in July, following his departure from fellow League One side Burton Albion. The 32-year-old has enjoyed a very successful career with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Oxford United and currently averages roughly one goal every three games in the third tier.
The striker managed six goals in 20 appearances last season as well as seven in the season prior and with his experience, eye for goal and age, a short-term contract could be the perfect solution for all parties.
Looking at a younger option, former Leicester City striker Josh Eppiah is another player that Mark Kennedy and his recruitment team could consider if they decide to pursue a forward reinforcement between now and the January transfer window.
The 24-year-old spent the previous 18 months with fellow League One side Northampton Town, helping them to win promotion back to the third tier last season, contributing to five goals in 35 appearances in all competitions, or one goal every seven matches.
Eppiah is predominantly a striker but also possesses the ability to play as a left or right winger, which would also improve the versatility options for Mark Kennedy’s attacking options. He is also likely to be available for an affordable wage, increasing the likelihood of a short-term deal but could Lincoln be an option for him?
Finally, having monitored Lincoln’s recent transfers, the club are likely to target young players who have been let go from either Premier League or Championship sides and that could see them consider a move for 20-year-old Will Bapaga.
The winger was released by Coventry City in June, due to the club wanting him to pursue first-team football elsewhere. Bapaga has made appearances in the Championship, League One and the National League with rivals Grimsby Town, where he grabbed his first career goals.
Bapaga is naturally a winger but has featured and scored as a striker with Coventry City’s U21s. Similarly to Shodipo, Bapaga would allow manager Mark Kennedy to consider keeping Hackett as a striker or push a player like Bapaga to operate as a striker on a temporary basis until either Vale or Walker return.
Lincoln City fans, would you take any of these players at your club or do you feel as though the club are better off without signing a cover option?