U’s could go second with a win at Newport
Colchester United face a real test of their automatic promotion credentials when they take on fellow top-six side Newport County in South Wales this afternoon, not least because they are weakened by injuries, suspension and unavailability.
The U’s will be missing several regulars for today’s clash at Rodney Parade, with the likes of keeper Rene Gilmartin, midfielders Harry Pell and Tom Lapslie, centre-half Tom Eastman and leading scorer Luke Norris all on the sidelines. And yet the Essex club have the possibility of even going second in the table, behind leaders Lincoln, if they can record a third successive league win, and second-placed MK Dons suffer a surprise home defeat at the hands of basement dwellers Macclesfield Town.
“We can make a statement of intent this weekend, to potentially move up to second spot,” enthused manager John McGreal.
“Three points in this division, more than any other division, can see you jump four or five places, but a couple of defeats and others can catch you up very quickly.
“We’ve been in good form, in the league. We were disappointed with the two Cup defeats (1-0 at Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup, and 3-1 at Cambridge United in the EFL Trophy), but we’ve been impressive in the league.
“It’s been a terrific start to the season, but that’s what it is – only a start. Now we have a number of good games coming up, against teams in and around us, so it is a very important period of the season,” added McGreal.
Midfielder Pell serves a one-match suspension today, while fellow midfield man Lapslie is out injured.
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That leaves the U’s with very few options in the middle of the park. Diaz Wright looks poised to start only his second-ever league game, in this role, perhaps alongside Sammie Szmodics or even the returning Cameron James, who was operating as a midfielder before his recall from his loan spell at Braintree Town.
Striker Norris remains out for the next few weeks with an ankle injury, and centre-half Eastman has a fracture above his eye socket, following his collision of heads in the FA Cup reverse at Accrington. Keeper Gilmartin tweaked his hamstring in that game, and is also out.
Teenager Ollie Kensdale, who made his debut at Cambridge in midweek, could make his senior debut, especially if McGreal opts for a three-man defence.“