Lincoln City boss gives update on goalkeeping and defensive situation ahead of second leg at Sunderland
Michael Appleton believes senior goalkeeper Alex Palmer could return to his side for the play-off semi final second leg at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Palmer, who had made 56 appearances since joining on loan from West Brom this season, was ruled out of the first leg on Tuesday night after suffering a concussion in training.
Appleton swooped to sign Josef Bursik from Stoke City as a result, the talented youngster joining on an emergency loan.
The England U21 international, who had also played a part in Peterborough United's automatic promotion on a similar deal, went on to excel in Lincoln's 2-0 win.
Bursik made a number of excellent saves, particularly from Jordan Jones when the score was still level early in the second half.
Palmer was set to return to training on Thursday and Appleton says the result of that will guide the next steps.
"One day last week he got hit in the face with a ball," Appleton said.
"It was like a whiplash scenario.
"He didn’t feel great straight away, he didn’t really know where he was, he didn’t know what day it was, it was quite serious.
“He had the CT scan, went to hospital, everything you’d expect. Since then, we’ve been following the concussion protocols. There was a bit of a grey area whether he would have been available for tonight.
“There’s a certain pathway you’ve got to follow and I think if the game had been Thursday, he would have been available, but he wouldn’t have had much football in between.
“Thursday will be his first full-on training session with the lads who haven’t been involved tonight.
“We’ll have a better indication Thursday/Friday if he’ll be available or Saturday.”
Appleton expects senior defender Adam Jackson to be absent for the second leg, after he suffered an injury early in the game at the LNER Stadium.
His usual partner Joe Walsh could yet return at the Stadium of Light, though Appleton will make a late decision on that front.
"He [Walsh] was not quite ready,” he said.
“He’ll train with us tomorrow. As long as he comes through it, he’ll train Friday and be available to be in the squad on Saturday.
“Jacko looks like he’s out of it, he’s done his calf. He felt it in the warm-up but felt he could get through it.”
Appleton praised his stand-in defensive partnership for their role in securing the clean sheet.
Lewis Montsma replaced Jackson from the bench, while Tottenham Hotspur loanee Timothy Eyoma was one of the game's most impressive performers alongside him.
"I thought the way those two young centre-halves dealt with Wyke and then Stewart was fantastic,” Appleton said.
“They’ve done ever so well. It’s hard dealing with those type of players when the ball is pumped into the box.
“Those lads, at times, had to dig deep and had use common sense and strength at different times. They both did it well.”
Sunderland will be without Conor McLaughlin, who has suffered a stress fracture of the back, and Denver Hume, who picked up a hamstring injury early in the first leg.