U’s midfield crisis gets worse ahead of Exeter trip

Midfielder Ben Stevenson, who is nursing a groin injury ahead of this weekend's trip to Exeter City.

Midfielder Ben Stevenson, who is nursing a groin injury ahead of this weekend's trip to Exeter City. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Colchester United are facing up to a serious midfield crisis, after talisman Ben Stevenson hobbled off during the second half of Tuesday night’s disappointing 3-0 home defeat to play-off rivals Forest Green Rovers.

Manager John McGreal has a big headache, going into this weekend’s long trip to Devon to take on another play-off contender in Exeter City.

Central midfielders Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie and Brandon Comley have all been in the treatment room in recent weeks, nursing injuries that have kept them out of the squad.

Lapslie and Pell have been dogged by hamstring injuries, while Comley has been struggling with a knee problem.

Young back-up Louis Dunne is also currently out injured, which only left Stevenson and the inexperienced Diaz Wright as the fit central midfielders at the club, going into Tuesday night’s clash.

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Wright was an unused substitute against Forest Green, with McGreal again choosing to play Stevenson as the one specialist central midfielder, and the 21-year-old delivered a man-of-the-match performance in a poor team display until he was substituted after 79 minutes due to a niggling groin injury.

“It’s a case of trying to get a team ready for Exeter, “ explained McGreal.

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“Ben went off with a groin injury, so it looks like another central midfielder could be potentially out for Saturday. We will have to monitor it.

“Ben’s carried his groin for a couple of weeks now, and it seems that this game was a bridge too far for him.”

The U’s will definitely be without attacker Frank Nouble for the trip to Exeter, after the ex-Ipswich Town man was sent off for two bookable offences late on against Forest Green.

“It was disappointing from Frank. We need to keep that discipline, even when we are getting beaten,” rued McGreal.

“Frank will not be available on Saturday now. The game was already done at 3-0 down. We don’t want to be beaten by four or five goals, because goal difference could still be a factor at the end of the season.

“We have got to dust ourselves down and go again, at Exeter,” added McGreal, whose U’s team remain in the League Two play-off zone in seventh spot.

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