Colchester United boss Kevin Keen worried other clubs might “nick” his best players

Kevin Keen giving out instructions at Gillingham on Monday

Kevin Keen giving out instructions at Gillingham on Monday

Colchester United might be bottom of the league, but manager Kevin Keen’s biggest fear is losing players, during next month’s transfer window.

Despite the U’s propping up the rest of the teams in League One, on the back of nine straight league defeats, new boss Keen is wary of other clubs nipping in to steal his best players.

Keen feels that the U’s have the personnel to pull clear of the relegation zone, during the second half of the season, and he hopes to add “one or two” new recruits during the January transfer window.

But winger Callum Harriott has returned to Charlton at the end of his successful loan spell, and Keen suspects that other members of his squad might be transfer targets over the coming weeks.

“I think any club in any division going into January will look to reinforce. We are not unlike any other,” explained Keen.

“I am more worried that teams in and around us, and from the league above, might look at it and think – ‘we’ll nick him, and we’ll nick him’ – that’s more of a worry.

“I’m hoping one or two (new players) might come in to help, but my biggest worry is that if anyone has watched us in our last two games, they will have seen that we’ve got certain players who I know can be playing for better teams.

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“So it’s going to be a fight to keep them,” added Keen.

Harriott returned to his parent club Charlton, following Monday afternoon’s narrow 1-0 defeat at Gillingham.

The 21-year-old scored seven goals, and also contributed seven assists for his team-mates, in 23 appearances for the U’s following his arrival on August 28.

Keeper Jamie Jones returned to Preston last week, at the end of his loan spell, while leading scorer George Moncur is bound to attract interest from other clubs.

“Callum is one very good player we are losing,” continued Keen.

“We are looking (for new players), but when we are bottom of the league it’s sometimes difficult to attract new players. However, I hope with some connections, and a little bit of pulling here and there, that we’ll be fine.

“But I’m actually happy with the players I’ve got at the moment.

“Owen (Garvan) came back (as an 80th minute substitute at Gillingham)and Marvin (Sordell) did well after what looked like a nasty injury at Rochdale.”

The U’s defence looked stronger, and better organised, as a defensive unit during the 1-0 defeat at third-placed Gillingham.

They were also unlucky not to score, at the other end, with a two-pronged strike-force of Chris Porter and Sordell proving a handful for the Gills’ defence – keeper Stuart Nelson made a number of fine saves.

“I am confident, that if the players continue to perform like they have done in the last two games (Southend and Gillingham), then we will get our just rewards,” insisted Keen.

“We defended as a team, we attacked as a team, and I think we represented Colchester United in a really good way (at Gillingham).

“And that will take us to where we want to be in the table,” added Keen.

The U’s are away at fellow struggles Oldham this Saturday.

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