Belgium to Bury – Aidy casts his transfer net

FROM the continent to local non-league, Colchester United manager Aidy Boothroyd is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to build a promotion-challenging squad for next season.

FROM the continent to local non-league, Colchester United manager Aidy Boothroyd is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to build a promotion-challenging squad for next season.

The U’s boss admits he is keeping a close eye on one player in Spain and another in Belgium, but also says he is ready to give amatuer players closer to home a chance.

“I’m not bothered where they come from, as long as they suit the criteria,” said Boothroyd, whose side missed out on the League One play-offs following a miserable end-of-season run of form.

“I don’t think you can be reactive in this job. When you’re looking for players you’ve got to be proactive, know about them first so you can bring them in before others do.”


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Boothroyd has built up an extensive range of contacts in the game since his first foray into coaching 13 years ago. He has proved that this season by not only recruiting players from the Premier League and Championship, but also from the Turkish Super Lig (Ian Henderson) and the Norwegian Second Division (Morten Knudsen).

The U’s boss sent assistant John Ward to a League Two match last weekend, attended a Blue Square Premier play-off game himself on Monday and intends to make as many of the various play-off matches that will follow.

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He also handed a trial to Bury Town player Ben Coker earlier this week in Colchester’s reserve team game against Norwich. The 20-year-old left-sided defender/midfielder has spent the season playing at step four of the non-league pyramid for his Suffolk club.

“We’ve looked at a couple of players in Belgium and Spain, but sometimes you can spread your net too far.,” said Boothroyd, who hopes to have all his transfer business

“You’ve got to look at non-league level too, because there are a lot of good players that are hungry and desperate to shine.

“My awareness of Ben (Coker) has come from a contact and is something we have followed up. We’ll take it further if we think we should, but I’ll only take players if I think they are ready to go straight into the first team. I dpon’t want to take players on and develop them for a year because I don’t think we are big enough for that.”

He continued: “There are lots of games and players that I want to see. I’ll look to be in and around all the play-off games, while there are also still games going on in Europe.

“I won’t sign anybody that I’ve not seen though, there’s too much that can go wrong. The transfer process goes through a filter and ultimately the chairman makes the final decision because he’s paying.

“I get a lot of phone calls from a lot of agents at this time of year that are putting the bait in the water to see whose interested. Then they play one off against the other.

“I’ve said to them (agents) that if they don’t tell me by a specific date then I will move onto the next target.”

– Colchester host Leyton Orient on Saturday in their final game of the League One season. For a full match preview, including Aidy Boothroyd’s views on chairman Robbie Cowling, see tomorrow’s EADT.

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