May 21, 2021 3.06 pm This story is over 14 months old

Fresh optimism ahead of Imps play-off clash as keeper recovers from concussion

Fans loved Josef Bursik, but Alex Palmer is back

Lincoln City goalkeeper Alex Palmer has been cleared to play in Saturday’s play-off match with Sunderland after suffering a concussion.

The West Bromwich Albion loanee missed the first leg of the League One play-off semi final with Sunderland on Wednesday, a 2-0 victory for the Imps at the LNER Stadium in front of over 3,000 fans.

Palmer suffered a training injury in which he was struck in the face by a ball, and concussion protocol ruled him out of the Sunderland game.

His replacement was emergency loanee Josef Bursik from Stoke City, who joined the day before the match, and the 20-year-old gained huge plaudits for his fantastic display on such short notice.

Josef Bursik put in a standout performance in his one and only appearance for the Imps on Wednesday. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Lincoln City posted a “Joe Bursik appreciation” post on social media, and the club weren’t the only ones who recognised his brilliant performance.

Linda Elleray commented: “out of this world debut, what a fantastic player”, while Pete Wells called him a “future England goalie in the making.”

Bursik will now return to his parent club, as EFL rules stated his emergency loan would only be valid if Lincoln City didn’t have a first team goalkeeper with more than five appearances to his name available.

Palmer’s return is a welcome boost to the Imps ahead of this vital game in the North East, knowing that even a one-goal defeat would be enough to secure a spot at Wembley in the final.

The 24-year-old has made over 50 appearances for Lincoln City this season and has been a key figure for Michael Appleton’s side.

In other injury news, central defender Joe Walsh is fit enough to return to the squad for tomorrow’s second leg after missing the first game through injury.

Adam Jackson, who started the Sunderland game but went off injured in the first half, will not be available and is even a doubt for the final should the Imps make it there.

There are doubts over the fitness of Sunderland star man Aiden McGeady, but Imps boss Michael Appleton said in his press conference there was more chance of Appleton himself playing in the game than McGeady not playing.

Sunderland vs Lincoln City will be live on Sky Sports this Saturday, kicking off at 3.30pm at the Stadium of Light.