Colchester United have NO need to sell their best players

Sam Walker

Sam Walker - Credit: Archant

Colchester United do NOT just have to become a selling club.

The U’s may have slashed their players’ budget, in recent seasons, but manager Joe Dunne is under no pressure to sell his prize assets.

Keeper Sam Walker and striker Freddie Sears are currently the U’s big-name stars. Ex-Chelsea trainee Walker had a superb season between the sticks, scooping the major player-of-the-year awards, while Sears bagged 12 goals despite a season troubled by injury.

The U’s would have to consider any serious bids for this duo, or any of their other players for that matter, but there is no need to sell unless an offer becomes too tempting.

Both Walker and Sears still have another year left on their contracts, and it is hoped that both will continue to play key roles during the 2014-15 campaign.

It would be no surprise, however, if a Championship club or a leading League One outfit did come in for a player of Walker’s calibre this summer – the 22-year-old was ever-present last season, and has already rattled up 124 league appearances during his short career.

Referring to Walker’s situation, manager Dunne admitted: “The pure fact is that if you have a player who plays well, it attracts attention.

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“And I think I have some players who have done that, irrespective of whether we have been fighting relegation or not.

“Sam would be a catch for somebody, but at the moment he is staying here.

“Whatever player I lose, I will always have a replacement in mind. But I am not looking to lose anyone.

“We keep cutting our cloth accordingly, so we are not in a position where we have to sell anybody.

“Sometimes, being in the last year of a contract may also bring an extra 10 per cent out of players,” added Dunne.

Walker had two successful loan spells with the U’s, before completing his permanent move from Chelsea earlier this year on January 20, on an 18-month contract.

The 6ft 6ins custodian kept 12 clean-sheets for the Essex club last term, an impressive number when considered that the U’s were struggling in the lower half of the table for most of the campaign.

In general terms, his command of the penalty area, and his reliability at dealing with crosses and corners, was key to the U’s League One survival.

Furthermore, his sensational performance at MK Dons, to keep a clean-sheet in a goalless draw on New Year’s Day, was one of the best performances delivered by a Colchester keeper for many-a-year.

No wonder, then, that U’s fans will be keeping their fingers crossed that no ‘bigger club’ comes in for Walker during the close-season.

Sears, meanwhile, is another player who might be on the radar of other clubs in League One.

The ex-West Ham attacker signed a three-year contract with the U’s, in July, 2012, and so has one year remaining on that deal.

Despite effectively missing a third of last season, due to injuries, he still netted 12 goals in 32 league appearances, easily the most productive campaign of his career.

The clamour is always for a manager to land a new proven goalscorer, in the build-up to a new season, a 20-goal-a-year front-man who is going to solve all the team’s goal-scoring problems in one fell swoop.

But it’s never that easy and, in truth, if Sears had been fully fit during the whole of the 2013-14 season, he might well have reached the 20-goal mark himself.

Instead, Dunne is looking at other areas of his team to start scoring more regularly.

“Everyone says we have got to find a striker, a 20-goal striker,” explained Dunne.

“We are always on the look-out, but it’s going to be a tough market for those sort of players.

“If I can make what I have already got better, then hopefully that should give us an advantage.

“What is key next year is to get more goals from the wide positions. They’ve got to chip in. We need 10 each from the wide men, and the No. 9 needs to get double figures.

“The midfield has also got to chip in. They have done at certain times, with five goals for Marcus (Bean), but we need more of that, and the centre-backs have also got to chip in with set piece goals.

“We need that, the way are going to play,” concluded Dunne,

Wingers Gavin Massey and Sanchez Watt ended the season with three goals apiece, while fellow attacker Dominic Vose failed to score in 28 appearances, so Dunne will be looking for a big improvement from all these three wide-men next term.

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