New Lincoln City boss makes blunt admission about his squad ahead of Sunderland clash
Lincoln City boss Michael Appleton admits his side need to ‘take the shackles off’ after they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Blackpool in his first game in charge.
Sunderland travel to Sincil Bank on Saturday to face a side who, after winning their first four competitive games this season, now have just one in 11.
Appleton has taken over from Danny Cowley, the inspirational figure behind their climb up the leagues, who has now joined Huddersfield Town.
Before the Blackpool game, Appleton had stressed that his first job would be to make his team tough to beat.
He was impressed with much of their play against Sumon Grayson’s side, particularly the performance of midfielder Jack Payne, but is already looking towards the January window.
“We've got a youthful team at times but for me I still think as a squad we're too old if I'm being bluntly honest,” he told Lincolnshire Live.
"That's something that over a period of time we'll be looking to reduce the age of the team.
"We had some legs in there with Callum [Connolly) and Joe [Morrell] with Jorge [Grant] coming and you've always got a chance when the opposition gets tired.
"I've walked into a situation where we've won one in nine and its now become one in ten,” he added.
"The players are not daft, they're human beings, they're playing with...and I don't know if fear is the right word, but they're a little bit tentative at the moment and nervous.
“They're scared to make mistakes and I want to take the shackles off. As long as you're doing the right things and we're consistent with what we're doing, if you make an error and make up for it quickly, then it doesn't become a problem.
"There's sometimes where, for instance you can take two touches to get a cross in which is down to confidence.
"We lack a little bit of belief but you can see as the game wore on we were a bit more resolute and the younger players in the team got stronger and stronger."
Lincoln now sit 11th in the table, six points of the play-off positions and Sunderland, who have played a game less.