The Insider: Lincoln's performances have improved since arrival of former Portsmouth boss Michael Appleton

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Mark Whiley, Lincoln City writer at the Lincolnshire Echo, gives the lowdown on Pompey’s next League One opponents Lincoln.

It feels like it’s been a long season already.

The departure of Danny Cowley and his brother, Nicky, to Huddersfield after two promotions with Lincoln was something that everyone saw coming.

But since Michael Appleton was appointed there have been improvements in performances.

They’ve certainly been harder to beat since the new manager came in.

There was a great win against Sunderland earlier this month, but it was a turgid 0-0 draw at home with Shrewsbury last time out.

Michael Appleton

Michael Appleton

The feeling has been fairly positive since Appleton arrived, they have been a much harder team to beat.

From what they’ve seen so far, the supporters seem to have been impressed.

Although, the results may not have been as desired.

Appleton quite quickly became the first choice after making an impression in his interview.

Both Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth and Newport boss Michael Flynn were mentioned for the role when the Cowley’s left.

But Appleton was identified as the outstanding candidate.

It’s been a really tough month, October, in terms of the fixtures.

There was the really good win over Sunderland and they performed really well on the road at Peterborough.

You could argue Lincoln were the better team up until mistakes allowed Darren Ferguson’s men to take all three points.

Given those performances against teams who were tipped as promotion favourites at the start of the season, Lincoln will head to Pompey relatively confident.

But they will make the trip facing an issue at centre-back.

Cian Bolger starts the first of his three-match suspension after being sent off against Shrewsbury.

Another central defensive option, Michael Bostwick, is sidelined with a calf injury.

That means either on-loan Everton defender Callum Connolly or Max Melbourne – predominantly a left-back – to fill in at centre-half.

On a positive not, Lincoln top scorer Tyler Walker heads to Fratton Park in form.

The forward, on a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest, has netted seven times in 14 League One appearances for the Imps.

If he has the services and the chances are provided, there’s no doubting he’ll deliver.

Likley line-up: Josh Vickers, Neal Eardley, Jason Shackell, Callum Connolly, Harry Toffolo, Bruno Andrade, Joe Morrell, Michael O’Connor, Jeorge Grant, Jack Payne, Tyler Walker. Subs: Grant Smith, Max Melbourne, Ellis Chapman, Harry Anderson, John Akinde, Aaron Lewis, Tom Pett.