U's squad is the strongest it's been for several years
PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United’s squad is looking stronger than it has done for many years.
In fact, U’s boss John McGreal is struggling to squeeze all his big-hitters into the 18-man match-day squad.
Last Saturday’s convincing 3-0 home win over Cheltenham Town, which lifted the U’s up to fourth in the League Two table, was achieved without the likes of Tom Eastman, Luke Norris, Callum Roberts or Brandon Comley even getting on the pitch.
There was no place in the squad for midfielder Comley, while striker Norris (second leading scorer with eight goals), defender Eastman (305 senior appearances for the U’s) and attacker Roberts (on loan from Newcastle United) were all unused substitutes.
“The performances of late have improved in the last two games, helped by the added boys that have come in,” explained McGreal.
“Leaving (Brandon) Comley off the bench, who has been pivotal for us since he’s been here, just shows us the quality that we have.
“I think the new additions have made the players who are in possession of the shirt to up their game, and I think that’s what we have seen.
“Two of the new boys are playing (Ben Stevenson and Abo Eisa), but young Callum (Roberts) is on the bench not playing a game.
“Callum has come to play games, but you are looking at the likes of Courtney (Senior) and Szmods (Sammie Szmodics) in his position – they have really upped their games.
“Callum will get his game-time, as Abs is getting his game-time, and been scoring.
“We have the (Tom) Lapslies and Eastmans on the bench, and (Brennan) Dickenson and (Mikael) Mandron coming on, and Luke Norris back fit again.
“Mikael was telling me all week that he was ready to play after straining his hamstring the previous weekend (4-0 win at Northampton).
“I’ve got to make decisions, and it was a tough decision to leave out Mikael, but you have to be careful with a hamstring and Abs’ (Eisa’s) second-half performance at Northampton edged that decision,” added McGreal.
U’s promotion rivals Carlisle, Forest Green Rovers and MK Dons all play this evening, so potentially McGreal’s men could drop three places in the table.