Colchester United shaping up well for the new season

Jabo Ibehre, fighting fit again after a groin injury

Jabo Ibehre, fighting fit again after a groin injury - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Colchester United’s squad is looking stronger and fitter by the day, in the build up to the new season.

Joe Dunne’s men, who have avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth during the last two years, will be hoping for a less nerve-wracking 2014-15 campaign in League One.

They have certainly been scoring goals for fun during pre-season, with 31 goals netted in eight senior friendlies, and will be looking to add to this tally in their next pre-season test, at Luton Town tonight (kick-off 7.45pm).

More importantly, the news from the treatment room is encouraging.

Striker Jabo Ibehre and Sanchez Watt, who had sat out a few days last week with groin and knee injuries, emerged unscathed from recent outings at Dover Athletic (2-2 draw last Friday) and Dagenham & Redbridge (4-3 win last Saturday).

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Midfielder Marcus Bean, after a month on the sidelines with a knee injury, is targeting tomorrow night’s pre-season game at Bishop’s Stortford for his return, while fellow midfielders Alex Gilbey (shin) and David Wright (Achilles tendon) should be fit for the start of the season, as should striker Dan Holman (ankle). The season begins with a home game against Preston on August 9.

“We’re shaping up well, and it’s all positive at the moment,” enthused manager Dunne last night.

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“It was a tough week last week, but the players have come through relatively unscathed.

“Jabo (Ibehre) and Sanchez (Watt) are a couple of games behind the rest of the lads, but they both got some game-time at Dover and Dagenham.

“They should also feature at Luton. We didn’t want to bring them back too early, but they are both feeling fine.”

“It’s been coming together well over the last few weeks. There are always things to work on, but after these next two friendlies we will be concentrating on training with some behind closed-doors games,” added Dunne.

The U’s have a blank weekend ahead, with in fact no game planned between Bishop’s Stortford (tomorrow) and the start of the season.

Tonight’s hosts Luton, who clinched promotion back to the Football League as Conference champions last season, beat Belgian visitors Royal Antwerp 4-0 over the weekend through goals from Alex Lacey, Fraser Franks, Ross Layfayette and Alex Lawless. John Still’s men look well equipped for another good season, back in League Two.

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