Duguid desperate to regain place

COLCHESTER United's club captain, Karl Duguid, is desperate to regain his place in the starting line-up after being frozen out for the last couple of games.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's club captain, Karl Duguid, is desperate to regain his place in the starting line-up after being frozen out for the last couple of games.

Speculation that Duguid was on his way out of Layer Road, during the January transfer window, proved unfounded. Now the U's longest serving player wants to help steer the Essex club away from the relegation zone.

The 29-year-old has not featured in the Championship since the turn of the year, and he might not figure against visiting Sheffield United today.

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However, he is in the 18-man squad and it's surely not long before he will once again become a regular feature.

“I'm raring to go again. I'm gunning for my place back in the team,” insisted Duguid.

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“There were lots of rumours about me possibly leaving Colchester, but I always said that I still had two years on my contract here, and that I was happy and didn't want to leave.

“Despite all the speculation, I didn't actually speak to any other clubs. I've always been happy at Colchester, and now the only aim is to help to keep us in the Championship.

“I played the full 90 minutes for the Reserves at Chelsea this week, and also got 90 minutes under my belt against Norwich Reserves the previous week. That's boosted my match-fitness,” added Duguid.

Basement dwellers Colchester, who are five points adrift of safety, are desperate for a victory over Sheffield United. They have only won five games all season, and just two of these have come at Layer Road.

One of the two new signings, secured on a hectic transfer deadline day on Thursday, will be involved this afternoon. Midfielder Dean Hammond serves the third of a three-match suspension, but 11th hour arrival Scott Vernon is in the squad.

Hammond was snapped up from Brighton for an undisclosed six-figure fee, believed to be £250,000 on Thursday evening. The 24-year-old former Seagulls skipper will be available to make his debut at Burnley next weekend.

Vernon, however, could well be on the bench against the Blades, having had his surprise move from Blackpool only ratified by the Football League yesterday afternoon.

Defender Pat Baldwin (tweaked knee ligaments) and winger Kevin McLeod (sciatica) both returned to training yesterday, but they will not feature.

However, as Duguid was quick to point out, the U's now have a squad boasting quantity as well as quality.

“In all the many years I've been here, the squad has never been as strong as it is now,” insisted Duguid, who made his senior debut for the U's in December, 1995 (at Hereford), following his apprenticeship in the youth team.

“I want to be part of the squad that stays in the Championship, going into our new stadium. We have a massive squad, with the new signings, which means competition for places all over the pitch.

“A player of Teddy Sheringham's calibre has only been on the bench recently, which says it all. Everyone wants to play,” added Duguid.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Ifil, Coyne, Virgo, White, Yeates, Izzet, Guttridge, Jackson, Platt, Lisbie, Sheringham, Vernon, Granville, Balogh, Duguid, Watson, Guy, Cousins.

SHEFFIELD UNITED: Kenny, Geary, Morgan, Ehiogu, Naysmith, Hendrie, Speed, Quinn, Martin, Hulse, Shelton, Beattie, Carney, Tonge, Armstrong, Kilgallon, Sharp, Stead.

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