Joe Morrell has gone from strength to strength this season which has put him right in contention to be involved in Ryan Giggs’ squad for the upcoming European Championships.
When the midfielder signed for Lincoln at the start of the season on a season-long loan from Bristol City, Morrell was already captain of the Welsh U21 side and had been an established member of the youth international set-up. The next few months of his career would go on to shape his international career ahead of the European Championships in 2020; should they eventually go ahead amid the ongoing cancellation of fixtures across the world.
Morrell has been deployed in a number of roles within the Lincoln City midfield this campaign and has played with a number of partners. Lincoln City had been crying out for a tireless midfielder since the departure of Alex Woodyard to Peterborough United just the summer before with several midfielders playing their role in the Imps’ historic League Two triumph.
Michael O’Connor was Morrell’s first partner of the season. The experienced midfielder often did the dirty work in front of the back four whilst Morrell was given initiative to get forward and become the box-to-box midfielder. The Welshman massively excelled in the role as Lincoln marched towards the top of the table at the end of August.
His impressive performances in the heart of the City midfield was attracting attention, not just from his parent club but also from the senior Welsh set-up. He received his first call up in August for the European qualifier with Azerbaijan and the friendly against Belarus with the Lincoln City midfielder making his debut in the friendly at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The midfielder continued his form under Danny Cowley with his manager’s move to Huddersfield Town having no effect on his performances. Michael Appleton joined the Imps at the end of September and pinpointed Morrell as one of the players that he wanted to build his Lincoln side around. He fitted into the perceived Appleton style, he was a young man who had plenty of experience and was handy with the ball at his feet.
There was widespread worry amongst Lincoln supporters that his performances would end up in a recall by his parent club. Bristol City were pushing for a place in the Championship play-offs as January rolled around with many Imps supporters worried that they had seen this sort of scenario before. Star players returning to the club at the halfway point of the campaign had previously had disastrous consequences for them before.
Whilst Tyler Walker was recalled by Nottingham Forest, the deadline passed with Joe Morrell still a Lincoln City player for the remainder of the season. His displays for the Welsh national team didn’t help those worrying Lincoln supporters as he more than held his own in the midfield with some of Europe’s top players, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey just to name a few.
Nowadays Morrell has a completely different role in the City midfield, the 23-year-old is playing the opposite role to the one he was used to at the start of the season. He is now the experienced man in the middle of the park with Appleton firmly putting his stance on his squad. Conor Coventry and Tayo Edun both joined the club from prestigious academies having failed to force their way into the first team.
Coventry and Morrell have been the pairing that Appleton has decided to field in recent weeks with Morrell learning to become a leader in the City midfield. A quality that will undoubtedly put him in a good position to impact the Bristol City midfield next season. However, Morrell may have something more important to focus on in the summer as he helped his home nation qualify for the European Championships. This will be the second consecutive championships that they have qualified for after reaching the semi-finals back in 2016.
The Imps have certainly played their part in the development of this extremely talented central midfielder, Lincoln’s number 19 appears to be twice the player that arrived on the first day of pre-season last summer. Morrell will go on to have a successful career with both his club and country should he continue to wear his heart on his sleeve everywhere he goes. A real fan favourite amongst the Lincoln faithful, the Imps shall always remember this loanee from Bristol City.