Zack Elbouzedi says he didn't want to go back to England 'for the sake of it' following move to Lincoln City

Sun, Jan 12 2020

Elbouzedi poses with family members following his first under-21 international in Tallaght. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Ireland under-21 winger Zack Elbouzedi believes he’s found the right home at Lincoln City after making the move from Waterford over Christmas.

The Malahide native had been tracked by champions Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers following a breakthrough year with the Blues but opted instead for a return across the water.

Having come through the ranks with West Bromwich Albion after moving from schoolboy club Malahide United at 16, the 21-year-old was determined not to move ‘for the sake of it.’

An injury-hit spell at Inverness Caledonian Thistle following his release from West Brom had dampened his enthusiasm for the game and he credits Wateford boss Alan Reynolds with reviving it.

Having experienced the harsher side of the UK game, the 12 months in Waterford saw him rediscover his form and become a regular starter in Stephen Kenny’s under-21 squad.

As well as six goals in his debut season for Waterford, despite missing a chunk of the season with a shoulder injury sustained on international, he's also netted three times in Euro 2021 qualifying.

And at such a key stage in his development, it was important the Dubliner found a club, and a manager in Michael Appleton, who understands how to help him move forward.

 “I like a club with ambition and this club definitely has that,” Elbouzedi told the Imps’ official website.

“I knew a few boys from West Brom who worked under the gaffer so when I spoke to them, they all had really good things to say.

“I didn’t want to come back to England for the sake of it, I wanted it to be the right club for me. When I spoke with Jez (George) and the gaffer, it seemed like the right type of project for me.”

Elbouzedi was handed his debut by Appleton as a substitute in the first fixture of the new year, a 3-1 defeat to Sunderland.

He was introduced again in the 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town on Saturday and, though his target is to establish himself in the first team, Appleton has indicated he will take things slowly.

“I just want to be on the pitch and getting minutes under my belt, but the gaffer has said he will ease me in.

“When I came on, I thought I did alright, but I am still getting used to the club. Everyone has made me feel really welcome and I am settling in, everyone in the city seems lovely.

“Michael trusts the young players which is what I like, it is a very good club with brilliant fans. He is out every day working on the training pitch and is very hands-on, so I like to working under him.”