‘Cole is not fit at the moment’ – admits Colchester United boss John McGreal on recent recruit Kpekawa

Sam Walker clutches the ball as his team-mate Lewis Kinsella leaps over him during Tuesday night's 2

Sam Walker clutches the ball as his team-mate Lewis Kinsella leaps over him during Tuesday night's 2-0 win over a West Ham XI. Walker has yet to concede a goal in four pre-season outings. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United have so far enjoyed a very satisfactory pre-season, and they will look to make further progress at National League South side Braintree Town tomorrow (3pm).

The U’s have won all four of their friendlies, without conceding a goal, after away wins at Maldon & Tiptree, Needham Market and Welsh club Llandando, and a 2-0 home success over a young West Ham XI on Tuesday night.

Even more importantly, injuries have been avoided – with the exception of Doug Loft’s sore hamstring – and several of the long-term injury victims from the back-end of last term have had successful returns to action.

Sammie Szmodics, Frankie Kent, Craig Slater and Denny Johnstone have all hit the ground running, after their respective injury woes of last Spring, centre-forward Johnstone having scored in each of the U’s last three friendlies.

- Video of Denny Johnstone

Left-back Cole Kpekawa, the U’s most recent signing, from Barnsley, has yet to appear as he concentrates on catching up with his fitness.


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Manager John McGreal confirmed: “Cole (Kpekawa) is not fit at the minute, because he hasn’t been in the plans at Barnsley, so we’ve got to try and get him up to scratch. We’ve got two weeks to do that, and we’re looking to get a lot of work into him in a short space of time.

“But I think he will turn out to be a terrific signing for us. He’s a player I have always had my eye on, and it’s a fantastic deal for the club. He played several games in the Championship last season, against the likes of Newcastle, Fuham and Derby.”

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It has been all change for tomorrow’s hosts Braintree, since they were relegated from the National League at the end of last season, after six seasons in the top-flight of non-league.

Former club stalwart Brad Quinton has replaced Hakan Hayrettin as manager, and there have been changes on the player front with a mass exodus and a big recruitment drive.

The list of new arrivals include left-back Ricky Gabriel, striker Nigel Neita, midfielder Connor Bolton, keeper Nathan McDonald and attacker Liam Enver-Marum.

Other new recruits include Billy Crook, George Sykes, Xavier Vidal, Roman Michael-Percil, Jonathan Muleba, Samir Bihmoutine, Scott Shulton, George Craddock and Marc Okoye.

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