'The season is not over' – Colchester United boss John McGreal
PUBLISHED: 06:37 16 March 2018
2018 Colchester United Football Club
Colchester United boss, John McGreal, has insisted that the play-offs are “still there for us,” in the build-up to tomorrow’s home match against struggling Yeovil Town.
Results went with the U’s, in midweek, with play-off rivals Coventry City and Exeter City both only drawing their Tuesday night fixtures.
While the Sky Blues were pegged back to 2-2 by second-placed Luton Town, after leading 2-0 at half-time, this weekend’s visitors Yeovil denied Exeter a couple of points in a goalless draw at St James Park.
McGreal’s men are therefore seven points adrift of League Two’s top seven, going into their remaining 10 fixtures, when otherwise they could have been facing up to a nine-point deficit.
“Those results went well for us during the week,” confirmed McGreal during yesterday lunchtime’s press conference at Florence Park, Tiptree.
“It’s still there for us (a possible play-off spot), so it’s all about us.
“Last weekend was a positive performance, but we’ve got a tough week coming up.”
Following tomorrow’s encounter with 17th-placed Yeovil, the U’s face a long trip to lowly Morecambe on Tuesday and then a shorter journey to mid-table Stevenage next weekend.
McGreal continued: “Looking back, we did especially well during that second half at Mansfield (1-1 draw last Saturday), but now Yeovil becomes our priority.
“We watched them on the tape the other night (against Exeter) and they got a deserved draw, so we are expecting a hard game.
“We certainly can’t take them for granted, but it’s all about what we do.
“Harry Redknapp (former Tottenham and West Ham manager) is in the background for them as well (advisory role to manager Darren Way), and he might have an impact, so there’s tons of experience at the club.
“However, points are precious for us at this stage of the season.
“A few points will get us moving up the league,” added McGreal.
The U’s have taken just one point from their last three matches, following back-to-back 1-0 defeats to relegation candidates Crewe and Barnet, plus last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at fifth-placed Mansfield.
Brandon Comley bagged his first-ever senior goal with a 51st minute equaliser at Field Mill, but the midfielder is one of those nursing a slight injury going into this weekend.
“We have one or two players carrying injuries from the Mansfield game,” admitted McGreal.
“Ryan (Jackson) went over on his ankle, so whether he is fit-or-not might impact on what we do.
“We are pondering over four-at-the-back or three-at-the-back. We have employed three for most of the season, but we went to four last weekend, because we felt the Mansfield game was a good time to go with it.
“Brandon (Comley) is another of those who took a knock last weekend. We are waiting on him. He turned his ankle at Mansfield, but carried on and got his goal.”
Brennan Dickenson will also be assessed, after coming through his first 90 minutes of the season against the Stags, following a 10-month comeback from a serious knee injury.
The 25-year-old impressed down the left wing, and could yet have a big role to play during the final quarter of the campaign.
“Brennan (Dickenson) did well on his first start of the season, but next week will be a big ask with three games in eight days,” said McGreal.
“We will have to see where he is at. I know that he will be wanting to start again this Saturday, but I’ve still got a big squad to choose from, despite the one or two knocks.
“Courtney (Senior) and Junior (Ogedi-Uzokwe) weren’t in the 18-man squad last weekend, because I felt it was the right time to make some changes. I had just about everyone fit, so I could make changes.
“Courtney had done particularly well for us, starting five games on the bounce.
“But he had come back from a year out (injury), so we have to look after him, although he could easily come back in and play on Saturday. That’s the type of player that he is.
“Everyone is being kept on their toes. It’s a very manageable squad at the moment.
“Now we have five games at home, and five games away. The season is certainly not over, and I think that the players have a point to prove after the Barnet game (last home match). We all know that was a poor performance, but we reacted well at Mansfield and we will be looking to do the same against Yeovil,” added McGreal.