Break won't disrupt form - Harford
COLCHESTER United's assistant manager Mick Harford believes that the enforced break for internationals will not disrupt the rhythm of the in-form U's.Normal service resumes tomorrow when the U's pay their first visit to Molineux for 18 years, to take on annual promotion candidates Wolves.
By Carl Marston
COLCHESTER United's assistant manager Mick Harford believes that the enforced break for internationals will not disrupt the rhythm of the in-form U's.
Normal service resumes tomorrow when the U's pay their first visit to Molineux for 18 years, to take on annual promotion candidates Wolves.
Remarkably, this will be the U's first game in October. They did not really want to see the back of September, during which they extended their unbeaten run to six games and earned their boss Geraint Williams the Championship manager-of-the-month award.
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Williams' assistant is adamant that the last fortnight has been put to good use - Layer Road has been buzzing ever since the famous 1-0 win over visiting Ipswich Town in front of the Sky Sports TV cameras on September 29.
“We had prepared for this two-week break. We have worked on the fitness of the players, especially those who haven't been having regular games,” revealed Harford last night.
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“We have staged a behind-closed-doors friendly, and several of the lads have effectively gone through a mini-pre-season.
“Some of the squad players who have not been featuring in the starting line-up, like Johnnie Jackson, Kevin McLeod, George Elokobi and Garry Richards, also played for the Reserves in midweek (1-0 win at MK Dons). It was also good to see Jamie Guy get another goal, with the winner,” added Harford.
The U's have acquitted themselves well to their new life in the Championship, especially after the demoralising first three weeks of the campaign, when they lost five league and cup games on the bounce.
They have a settled side - just one change in the last six matches, which was an enforced goalkeeping change - and the odds are on another unchanged starting line-up for the trip to Wolves.
Harford continued: “We were only losing games by the odd goal at the start of the season. We were still competing well in the Championship and now we have the points to prove it.
“We have managed to keep a clean sheet in our last two matches (at Leicester and against Ipswich), which we hadn't managed to do before. That's been down to the whole team working hard, and defending well, not just the back four and the keeper.
“I thought that we should have been home and dry before half-time against Ipswich. We should have scored more than the one goal, and they came at us in the second-half.
“Now we have another game against a big club. Wolves have a good mixture of youth and experience and they have been challenging for promotion over the last few years.
“They were one of the teams mentioned in the pre-season talk of promotion. I'm sure that they will be in the shake-up. But we are doing well, and we are approaching every game with a view to winning it,” added Harford.
Wolves are currently in ninth spot, just two points behind second-placed Birmingham City and two points ahead of 13th-placed Colchester.
But Mick McCarthy's men have struggled to score goals this season. They have only mustered eight from their first 10 games. In fact, only Leicester City and basement club Sheffield Wednesday have scored fewer goals in the Championship.
Centre-half Gary Breen was sent off during Wanderers' last match, which ended in a 4-0 drubbing at leaders Cardiff City. But they have since lodged a successful appeal against the red card, so Breen has escaped suspension and is set to play against Colchester.