Lincoln City were one of the few League Two clubs to act in the market yesterday afternoon and when they did, they pulled yet another shock out of the bag.
Losing captain Luke Waterfall to Shrewsbury might have been perceived as a blow, but Danny Cowley proved he is as adept at reacting as he is at planning meticulously.
Their 28-year old talisman stepped up to League One after leading the Imps out of the National league and on to a Wembley final last season.
His move came about as Toto Nsiala left the Shrews for Ipswich, prompting a chain of events that could have left the Imps without a number five and club captain going into a tough looking fixture against Swindon this weekend.
Less than 24-hours later they’ve pulled of a huge shock in recruiting for derby County centre half Jason Shackell, a man who has never played football outside the top two divisions. Indeed, following his release from Derby it seemed perhaps another Championship move o maybe a League One switch was in the offing, but League Two?
Shackell is a born winner, having secured promotion from the Championship to the Premier League on three occasions, as a title winner with Norwich and with Wolves and as a runner-up with Burnley. Indeed, only three seasons ago he was ever present for the Clarets in the top flight.
This season, instead of Stoke and Nottingham Forest, he’ll be pitting his wits against Stevenage and Newport at the heart of an Imps defence that 24 hours ago looked to have taken a huge blow. In losing Luke Waterfall, Lincoln fans might have been forgiven for panicking, instead they’ve been gifted a player with more experience than almost any they signed in the past.
Of course, this is just the latest in a long line of transfer coups pulled off by Danny Cowley, starting the day he walked through the door at Sincil Bank. In the summer of 2016 he secured Nathan Arnold on a two-year deal despite the winger being promoted with Grimsby a month before, then attracted Dover’s Sean Raggett despite Football league interest.
Last season he managed to take Michael Bostwick to Sincil Bank, Peterborough captain and player of the year the season before. During the campaign he added Lee Frecklington, a Championship captain six months prior to his switch back to his boyhood team.
This summer he’s been at it again, tempting John Akinde up north, adding the National League’s hottest property in Bruno Andrade and Notts County captain Michael O’Connor for good measure. Now, as if they’re collecting captains, Shackell has joined having skippered Wolves, Norwich and Derby.
It is fair to say the budget at Sincil Bank eclipses many in League Two, but having money is all well and good, but worth very little if it is spent unwisely. At 34, Shackell may be approaching the end of his playing days, but in League Two he is a gargantuan signing that once again underlines the belief professionals have in the two schoolteachers from Essex.
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