Colchester snap up Campbell-Ryce

COLCHESTER United beat yesterday's transfer deadline by a matter of a few minutes to snap up Jamal Campbell-Ryce on loan from Rotherham.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United beat yesterday's transfer deadline by a matter of a few minutes to snap up Jamal Campbell-Ryce on loan from Rotherham.

Exciting winger Campbell-Ryce, who had a loan spell at Essex rivals Southend earlier in the season, could go straight into the U's squad for tomorrow's trip to mid-table Scunthorpe.

The day began with Ipswich Town teenager Billy Clarke completing his loan move from Portman Road to Layer Road, as was revealed in yesterday's EADT.

Irish front-runner Clarke will definitely be in this weekend's squad, therefore boosting manager Phil Parkinson's attacking options for the remainder of the season.

The U's are currently in fifth spot, but just one point adrift of Brentford, who currently occupy the second automatic promotion place.

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United have nine games left, and they have certainly not ruled out their chances of finishing in the top two, especially as they entertain Brentford the following weekend.

Campbell-Ryce looks sure to entertain the Layer Road faithful. The 22-year-old, who is renowned for his raw pace and trickery, actually drew applause from the Ipswich crowd for his performance when visiting Portman Road in the colours of Rotherham last season.

The Jamaican international, who was a trainee at Charlton, had a productive loan spell with Chesterfield before signing for Rotherham in November, 2004. He has since made 32 senior appearances for the Millers, and played a further 16 games for Southend this term.

Parkinson said last night: “Jamal (Campbell-Ryce) is a lad who can beat players in wide areas, and create chances. He has also played in the Premiership with Charlton.

“I feel that in tight games, when the pressure's on, he has the quality on the ball that is needed. He could make all the difference.

“I will be assessing Jamal's fitness in training (today) before deciding what to do this weekend, but he will be involved over the weeks to come. He has not played much recently.

“The deal only went through a few minutes before the 5pm deadline. The deal took a long time, because there were a few complications.

“I felt that the dressing room needed a couple of fresh faces. We have a great bunch of lads, but it needed changing just a bit,” added Parkinson.

A dispute between Rotherham and Southend eventually saw Campbell-Ryce return to Millmoor. The Millers have said that Southend agreed to pay £100,000 to make the loan deal a permanent one, which the Shrimpers deny - a tribunal is to rule on the issue.

His loan spell with Colchester will be extended beyond the regular season, if the Essex club reach the play-offs, although he will not be available for the home match against Hartlepool on April 11, due to international commitments with Jamaica.

Campbell-Ryce said: “I'm just pleased to be back playing football. It's been a frustrating time for me and I'm caught in the middle.”

Meanwhile, U's boss Parkinson said of his other new recruit Clarke: “Billy will give us some much-needed cover in attack. He should give us some spark.

“He's a talented youngster who we've been looking at for a while. He will definitely be in the squad for the Scunthorpe trip. We needed some more attacking options, because Richard (Garcia) could be out for the rest of the season with his cartilage injury. Richard will be out for four to six weeks.

“Gareth (Williams) is also on loan at Blackpool, but the arrival of Billy (Clarke) and Scott (Vernon) have enabled Jamie Guy to go back on work experience at Cambridge United. We feel that Jamie needs some games at this level,” added Parkinson.

The U's have no new injury concerns for tomorrow's visit to Scunthorpe. Clarke and Campbell-Ryce are likely to be the two additions to the squad that secured a goalless draw at Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night.

n Former Colchester United striker Lloyd Opara's dreams of signing for Premiership champions Chelsea have been dashed, but the young striker has been given the chance to make the grade in the Football League by Peterborough.

Opara, a prolific goalscorer for Southern Premier League side Cheshunt this season, was handed a well-publicised trial with Jose Mourinho's side last week.

But the 22-year-old failed to impress among the superstars at Stamford Bridge and has now lowered his sights by joining League Two promotion-hopefuls Posh on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent switch in the summer.

Opara, a former trainee at Layer Road, made just nine appearances for Colchester, all of them as a substitute, before signing for Cambridge United three years ago.

n Relegation candidates Rotherham look to have staved off the threat of liquidation, after a takeover package for the financially-crippled League One club was agreed.

A group of Rotherham businessmen have stepped forward with what they describe as “a substantial level of investment and a far-reaching business plan to take the Millers forward”, although no figures have been disclosed.

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