In the last league game of the season for the Imps, Michael Appleton’s team will welcome 19th place at AFC Wimbledon at the LNER Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
Since Lincoln City has already secured its play-off spot and Wimbledon has managed to survive his relegation scare, tomorrow’s game in Sky Bet League One will have little impact in the context of the season.
However, the Imps play-off semifinals will be confirmed on the basis of tomorrow’s result , an achievement few have predicted before a ball was kicked this season.
If the results speak for Michael Appleton and his side, Lincoln City could take a third place beating Portsmouth (versus Accrington Stanley) , Oxford United (versus Burton Albion) or Charlton (versus Burton) could host Hull City).
If the two teams agree over Lincoln (Sunderland and Blackpool) with the result of the Imps Well, Lincoln is currently facing the Black Cats to reserve their spot at Wembley for the promotional shoot-out.
With a much bigger game waiting for the Imps, Michael Appleton will survive that game at Wimbledon without sustaining injuries or suspensions in order to attack the play-offs with his strongest side.
« The performance is probably one time greater than the result, » said Appleton. « Usually they go hand in hand for us, but tomorrow it’s sure to be about us looking solid on the back and the guys getting away from the game unharmed. »
The question for many will be whether it’s the Lincoln- Boss can afford to look past tomorrow’s game and focus on the game ahead. This mentality would go against the “one game at a time” rhetoric that has been so consistently emphasized this season.
However, Appleton says this is not the case because he does not know his play-off opponent: « If it has already been decided, then maybe, but we will treat Wimbledon with the respect they deserve. »
« Once the game is over, we will know who our play-off opponents are and we will we’re going to focus on them. «
The other tactical battle Appleton faces is whether he can set up a play-off game that would be more beneficial to his team.
» I’m in a mindset where I can look you 100% in the eye and say, I don’t care who we get, « explained the Imps boss.
» I think teams will want to avoid us think we are dangerous and on our day we can hurt teams. » Yes, we have a very young team, we are quite unpredictable at times, but that makes us exciting. I think if it turns out that any of the other teams have to play against us, they are sure to have some concerns, « he added.
Appleton confirmed that Adam Jackson and Brennan Johnson, both of whom were due mid-week for a Injury were excluded from the Charlton game, will be added to the squad tomorrow.
“At some point, both will definitely play a role in the game. There’s a better chance Brennan [Johnson] will play more minutes than Jacko [Adam Jackson] since he only comes into play with a session and a half. «
Adam Jackson’s injury has been a protracted problem for the Imps for a few weeks now, but his likely return to action tomorrow doesn’t mean the end of the problem.
» I wouldn’t say we’re going to Reason gone. We’ve ruled out so many things that he’ll probably have to endure a bit of pain until he reaches the point where there is nothing more he can physically do.
« [Adam Jackson] himself said he might as well try to try as best as possible until he collapses, so a will for him that he wants out there and tries, « said Appleton.
The Imps are not entirely free of injury concerns, however, as both TJ Eyoma ( Knee) and Anthony Scully (buttocks) must be assessed prior to the game before their participation can be confirmed.
Although neither player has suffered an injury that would exclude them from the play-offs, Appleton admits that playing either tomorrow afternoon might be too risky.
« They were on a very good run and had a number of mixed results in the last couple of games, but they did very well and played along a bit of freedom they dangerous, « says Appleton.
After The Dons spent much of the season in one of the relegation zones in Sky Bet League One, the Dons’ place in the third division is after a constant number of games towards the end of the season Season already secured for next season.
Appleton expects an offensive approach from the visitors, as they have little influence on tomorrow’s result.
« It should be a good, open and offensive game. There is no reason not to do this as there is no real pressure or concern on either side. You can just go out and enjoy it.
“Your front players are dangerous because of their great physicality. [Ollie] Palmer and [Joe] Piggott are going to be a handful, and they get the ball in them early, but it’s with quality.
« We are aware of this and need to be good at defending the crosses because with these two It could be a difficult afternoon in the box if we’re not ready to stop the crosses, « Appleton stated.
You can follow live updates from Lincoln City v AFC Wimbledon on @LincSport on Twitter on Sunday at 12 noon .
Lincoln City are looking to get back to winning ways after the draw with Hull City if they host Accrington Stanley in Sky Bet League One tomorrow afternoon.
Michael Appleton’s side played a goalless tie against the Tigers mid-week to protect their three-point pillow at the top of the league.
With 20 games remaining
Lincoln City, Bristol Rovers will host Sky Bet League One tomorrow afternoon at LNER Stadium.
The Imps and The Gas face 14 league points between them after opening both games hard for both sides.
Lincoln’s perfect start to the season got them to the top of League One.
The Imps want to expand their unbeaten league to six games when they travel to Portsmouth on Tuesday evening in Sky Bet League One.
Michael Appleton’s side will make the long journey to Hampshire after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Northampton on Saturday. a finding held by Lincoln.
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