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League Two Colchester United have some assets who could interest Ipswich Town

PUBLISHED: 08:00 19 June 2017

Sam Walker makes a great save from a Rhys Bennett effort during the U's 2-0 win over Mansfield last season. Walker is a highly-rated keeper. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Sam Walker makes a great save from a Rhys Bennett effort during the U's 2-0 win over Mansfield last season. Walker is a highly-rated keeper. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United are a League Two club, but they do have a few players on their books who could do a good job at Ipswich Town.

Craig Slater is fouled at Accrington Stanley during his last appearance for the U's, before his hernia operation. The Scotsman could certainly play at a higher level. Picture: PAGEPIX Craig Slater is fouled at Accrington Stanley during his last appearance for the U's, before his hernia operation. The Scotsman could certainly play at a higher level. Picture: PAGEPIX

Players shifting along the A12, in a north-easterly direction between Colchester and Ipswich, and south-westwards between Ipswich and Colchester, have been a common trait of recent times.

The U’s used to snap up ex-Town players, who were surplus to requirements, on a regular basis during the 1990s and 2000s.

The likes of Mick Stockwell, Chris Keeble and Neil Gregory all made the short trip into North Essex, from Portman Road to Layer Road.

Tom Eastman also took this route, to good effect, when leaving Roy Keane’s Ipswich to join John Ward’s Colchester in 2011.

Brennan Dickenson celebrates after scoring to give the U's a 1-0 lead against Doncaster Rovers. Dickenson was the subject of a Town bid last January, but is now out long-term with a cruciate injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER Brennan Dickenson celebrates after scoring to give the U's a 1-0 lead against Doncaster Rovers. Dickenson was the subject of a Town bid last January, but is now out long-term with a cruciate injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Other former Town favourites, like Jason Dozzell, David Gregory and Wayne Brown, signed for the U’s via other clubs.

Similarly, Ipswich have occasionally bolstered their ranks with a few of the U’s brighter sparks, players such as midfielder Anthony Wordsworth and strikers Kevin Lisbie and Freddie Sears.

Wordsworth, now on the books of Southend, only played 18 league games for Town following his £100,000 switch in early 2013, while Lisbie blew hot-and-cold after his £600,000 move from Colchester, who had just been relegated out of the Championship in 2008.

Ex-West Ham front-runner Sears, still on Town’s books, has so far rattled up 103 league appearances for Town following his successful stay with the U’s.

Richard Brindley, who was offered a new contract by the U's this summer. He enjoyed a fine season last term. Picture: PAGEPIX Richard Brindley, who was offered a new contract by the U's this summer. He enjoyed a fine season last term. Picture: PAGEPIX

Meanwhile, current Town keeper Dean Gerken played 109 league games for the U’s, between 2004 and 2009, before ending up at Ipswich via Bristol City in 2013.

The U’s, with ex-Ipswich centre-half John McGreal at the helm, are a League Two outfit these days, so it’s a bigger jump up to Championship stalwarts Ipswich.

And yet the Essex club do have some players who could do a good job for Ipswich, given the chance.

SAM WALKER

One of the best keepers in the lower two divisions, of the Football League, Walker could certainly operate at a higher level.

The former Chelsea trainee initially arrived on loan from Stamford Bridge in 2013, eventually signing on a permanent basis in January, 2014.

The 25-year-old hardly missed a game, before he was struck down by a knee injury which caused him to miss the whole of the U’s League One relegation campaign of 2015-16.

But he returned last season to play every league game and, although not always back to his very best, he is still a very good keeper with bags of potential.

He commands his box, is excellent from crosses, and is very difficult to beat from all distances.

Walker signed a new deal, just before Christmas, 2015, which does not expire until next summer.

BRENNAN DICKENSON

Already known as a Town target – manager Mick McCarthy tried to sign him during the January transfer window – Dickenson enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016-17.

An attacking threat in both a left-wing and left-wing-back role, Dickenson plundered 12 goals in 36 league outings for the U’s, before suffering cruciate ligament damage in April.

Dickenson will struggle to play again, before the turn of the year, so any revival of Ipswich’s interest will not take place until next year. But the ex-Brighton and Gillingham man is still only 24, so he has age on his side.

Despite his late horror injury, he was still crowned the U’s player-of-the-year, and also the players’ player-of-the-year.

He has a lethal shot, can beat defenders with ease, and in addition to his goal-scoring prowess, he also provided seven assists for team-mates last term.

CRAIG SLATER

This 23-year-old midfielder has bags of talent, improving throughout the season until, like many of his team-mates, he was sidelined by a long-term injury.

Recruited from Kilmarnock last summer, on a two-year deal, Slater operated in both a defensive and attacking midfield role for the U’s.

He looked most at home in a more offensive position, and has the potential to score goals – he managed three in 32 league outings. His season was ended by a double hernia and relating groin problem, in March, which required an operation. His absence was a reason why the U’s just missed out on the play-offs.

RICHARD BRINDLEY

One of the most consistent performers for the U’s last season, at right-back and right wing-back.

He spent 10 years progressing through the youth ranks at Norwich City, but ended up being released by the Canaries without making a first-team appearance.

Aged 24, he has time to start climbing the leagues again. He only missed five league games last season. His current deal expired this summer, but he has been offered a new contract.

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