Danns set to leave U's

PROMOTION hero Neil Danns will no longer be the man for Colchester United, with Birmingham City ready to pay around £500,000 for the free-scoring midfielder.

By Derek Davis

PROMOTION hero Neil Danns will no longer be the man for Colchester United, with Birmingham City ready to pay around £500,000 for the free-scoring midfielder.

The U's have accepted they are going to lose the former Blackburn attacker, who netted 16-goals in Colchester's successful season, and are in negotiations with newly-relegated City.

Although Danns is out of contract at Layer Road, he is under 24 and United are therefore entitled to a fee and a number of clubs are known to be keen on the player.

So far only Steve Bruce's Birmingham have made a firm offer and Danns has held talks with the Midlands club after rejecting an improved deal at Layer Road. U's chairman Peter Heard last night said: “Neil has been offered increased contract terms with us which he does not want to accept and it is likely he will be moving.

“It is disappointing for the club as Neil is an important player for us but we have anticipated this for a while now. He has always been very straightforward with us and indicated he wanted to leave.

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“Birmingham City have been in touch but we have not yet agreed terms and several other clubs are in talks with Neil.”

The 23-year-old, who recently became a father and commuted from his Liverpool home to play for the U's, is a crowd favourite among U's fans.

His energetic and skilful central midfield displays endeared him to the crowd but he also weighed in with a terrific amount of goals.

Danns hit 28 goals in 87 matches, including a nine goal burst in ten games during December and January of the season just gone, which helped provide the platform for a run that saw the U's hurtle up the table and into the promotion places.

Bruce will have given some extra inside information on Danns by his son Alex who played alongside him at Blackburn when he regularly scored from the Premiership outfit's second string before joining the U's, initially on loan but then for a nominal fee in December 2004.

Rovers are entitled to a sell-on fee but the remainder of the sale will be given to Phil Parkinson's playing budget.

The U's boss is close to making a couple of new signings to strengthen his squad for the forthcoming Championship campaign.

He will also be hoping to keep hold of the bulk of his current squad although a number of clubs are believed to be circling above Greg Halford

If Danns goes to St Andrews he will link up with England Under 21 star Cameron Jerome who signed from Cardiff City, as City look to bounce back into the Premiership at the first attempt.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old U's midfielder, Kevin Watson is due to undergo surgery today to correct a long-standing groin problem.

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