Boost for Colchester United: Matt Briggs returns to training

Matt Briggs, set to play for Colchester United Under-23s against Manchester City tonight

Matt Briggs, set to play for Colchester United Under-23s against Manchester City tonight - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Matt Briggs, almost the forgotten man at Colchester United, returned to training for the first time yesterday, more than half-a-year since his last competitive appearance.

Briggs has endured a torrid 2016, and will be glad to see the back of it following a struggle with injuries, and also family issues.

In fact, the 25-year-old left-back has only made three first-team appearances since the end of January, and his last outing was a cameo 45 minutes against Rochdale on the final day of last season.

Briggs has yet to feature at all this term, due to a serious hip injury, but at least the ex-Fulham and Millwall defender is finally on the mend.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Notts County, U’s boss John McGreal confirmed: “Matt was back in training today. It was his first day back after his injection. He trained with the under-23s.

“He had been out for nine or 10 months really, so it’s been nearly a year out of football.

“That’s a very long time out for a boy who can offer so much on the pitch.

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“A lot of wasted time has been lost with his injuries.

“Matt has broken down before, but hopefully he won’t suffer any more setbacks.

“We will certainly have to monitor him, and see how it develops.

“But we are all looking forward to having him back in the squad, and back in the team,” added McGreal.

Attacking left-back Briggs became the youngest player to appear in the Premier League, when he made his league debut for Fulham at the age of 16 years, 65 days, in May, 2007.

He arrived at Colchester via Millwall, initially on loan, but his career has been on hold for much of this year.

With the exception of a first-half outing against Rochdale, on the final day of last season, his only other appearances since the end of January were 33 minutes as a substitute in a 3-0 defeat at Southend in February, and a start in the 3-3 home draw against Wigan in March.

The left-back role has been a problem area for McGreal this season. In addition to Briggs, fellow left-back Lewis Kinsella has been out long-term with a foot injury.

In the recent switch to a 3-5-2 system, Brennan Dickenson has been operating as a left wing-back.

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