Whilst Lincoln City may not have expected to be ninety minutes away from Championship football at the start of the season, last Sunday’s play-off final defeat to Blackpool will sting for a short while.
It has been a memorable few years for the Imps. In the space of five years, they have gone from National League strugglers to League One promotion contenders, one game away from reaching England’s second tier.
They may have fallen at the final hurdle this season, but there is still plenty of positive about under the tutelage of Michael Appleton.
Of course, this summer will be crucial for Lincoln as they prepare to embark on the next step in their quest for promotion from League One.
Straight away, there is a need to replace departing loan duo Brennan Johnson and Morgan Rogers, with the teenagers returning to parent clubs Nottingham Forest and Manchester City respectively.
The pair chipped in with 19 goals between them, with Rogers arriving midway through the season on loan. They added plenty of goal threat from midfield, and they leave two holes to be filled in the transfer market.
It seems as if one ready-made replacement is on the club’s radar, though. A source has exclusively told Football League World that the Imps have made an offer for Jordan Graham, whose future lies up in the air.
Graham was a standout performer in League One for Gillingham this term. In 44 appearances across all competitions, he scored 13 goals and added nine assists, with 12 of those strikes coming in 39 League One matches.
The 26-year-old is now a free agent following his departure from Gillingham after turning down a new deal at Priestfield, and is attracting interest after an impressive individual campaign.
Graham would be a perfect fit for Lincoln. The winger is capable of playing on either flank, but is primarily right-sided and would add depth to that area of the pitch.
As per Wyscout, Graham’s success rate from 349 dribbles across the whole of 2020/21 was 67%, meaning more often than not, he beat his marker with his pace.
You also have to consider how big of a statement it would be to bring him in, too. Not only would he be available to sign on a free transfer, but there’s understood to be interest from Birmingham City, with Lee Bowyer an admirer of the winger.
He was a standout performer for a top-half League One side this term, and at 26, he is at the right age to progress and make the next step in his career.
Lincoln have ambition. Lincoln have a project in place. If Appleton manages to sell that to him, then it would be some coup and more importantly, would be an excellent way to recover from a season which culminated in heartbreak.