Imps’ manager Sutton faces selection dilemma ahead of derby clash

Lincoln City boss Chris Sutton could be without 11 first-team players for the derby clash with Grimsby Town on Saturday. | Photo: Lincoln City F.C.

Lincoln City boss Chris Sutton has admitted he may not be able to fill the seven substitute places, as his squad has been ravaged by injury, illness, and suspension.

Defenders Aaron Brown, Ian Pearce, and Eric Lichaj are all suspended, while Paul Green, Paul Connor, Sergio Torres, Richard Butcher, and Joe Heath are all definitely sidelined through injury and illness, and there are serious fitness doubts over Shane Clarke, Rene Howe, and Adam Watts.

The former England international has admitted the list of unavailable players hasn’t been ideal in the preparation for the game against the Mariners.

“We’ve got see where we are in terms of injuries and suspensions, and see who we can get on the park. It hasn’t been ideal but we’ve got to get on with it, it happens to other sides. It opens opportunities for other players to come in and show what they can do, and if they do well then they can keep the jersey.”

Sutton himself may have his own disciplinary issues to deal with, after he was sent to the stands in City’s 1-1 draw against Cheltenham Town last Saturday. The FA have charged the Imps’ chief with improper conduct but he has until Tuesday to appeal against the decision. Although he hasn’t announced whether he will appeal against the charge, Sutton has defended his actions.

“It’s an emotional game, we didn’t think what happened was right and we reacted. We all make mistakes. It has happened now and we’ve got to move forward. If we feel things are wrong, we should stand up in what we believe in but on the other hand there’s a line and we have to accept that.”

Lincoln host manager-less Grimsby in the first Lincolnshire derby of the season. The Mariners have had a poor start to the season and sit in the League Two relegation zone, five points behind City. Like Lincoln, Grimsby have had a change of management following the departure of Mike Newell last month. Sutton, who has played in the Glasgow derby between Celtic and Rangers, understands how much local derbies mean to the fans.

“They are different games but I don’t think it’s different in wanting to win. We’re at Lincoln and we want to win any game we can. They are bigger games and I think it’s fair to say both ourselves and Grimsby aren’t in the greatest of league positions and we just want the three points more than anything. It’s important for the fans, and the players and myself are well aware of that.”

The Mariners currently hold the bragging rights after their 5-1 thrashing of the Imps at Blundell Park at the end of last season. Sutton has called on the fans to get behind the team ahead of the derby clash.

“We had a particularly bad result against them last season, which people do remind us of but it’s a new season, new game, we’re at home and we want to win the game. It’s a big game for the fans. I thought the support last week was excellent and at the moment with all the injuries and suspensions we need the fans more than ever.”

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