Duguid return on cards for cup tie
SATURDAY'S late postponement at Underhill, just 90 minutes before kick-off, was frustrating news for just about everyone - except Colchester United skipper Karl Duguid!Winger Duguid was sitting with the rest of the U's squad on the team coach, outside Barnet's ground, when referee Trevor Kettle announced that the FA Cup third round tie had been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
By Carl Marston
SATURDAY'S late postponement at Underhill, just 90 minutes before kick-off, was frustrating news for just about everyone - except Colchester United skipper Karl Duguid!
Winger Duguid was sitting with the rest of the U's squad on the team coach, outside Barnet's ground, when referee Trevor Kettle announced that the FA Cup third round tie had been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
The 28-year-old was not in the squad, due to a chest injury, but had come along to support his team-mates. However, he is fit enough to rejoin the squad for tonight's rescheduled fixture.
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“I suppose Saturday's postponement was a blessing in disguise for me,” admitted Duguid.
“I was about the only one who wasn't disappointed that the first game was called off. I had wanted to be involved on the day, so that's why I had come along to support the rest of the lads.
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“But my chest problems are a lot better now, and I hope to be involved at some point in the game. I'd like to be a part of the squad.
“I've had some rest and I've just come through a full training session as well. The chest feels fine. I can feel it a little, but it's not nearly as bad as it was, and my breathing is not affected,” added Duguid.
U's stalwart Duguid had to pull out of the team at QPR on New Year's Day, just half-an-hour before kick-off, after suffering problems with his breathing in the warm-up at Loftus Road. A subsequent X-ray revealed just bruising to the chest, rather than a cracked rib.
Duguid, who is currently in negotiations over a new contract, could well be on the bench at Barnet tonight. He also admitted last night that there was no truth in the rumour that he could be set to leave the U's, when his current contract expires at the end of this season.
“I've been at Colchester United for the last 15 years and, if I had my way, I'd be here for the next 15 as well!” insisted Duguid.
“I'm in negotiations over a new contract, and I'm hoping that things will soon be resolved. It's a massive contract for me, at this time in my career, and that's why I want everything to be right. I want it to be spot-on.”
U's manager Geraint Williams confirmed that Duguid would be in tonight's squad.
The Welshman said: “The postponement gave Karl an extra couple of days to recover.
“He will come in for Craig Hughes; otherwise, it's the same squad. West Ham got through their match (3-0 win over Brighton), so Hogan Ephraim (West Ham loanee) has still not been given permission to play.”
Yesterday's fourth round draw paired either Barnet or Colchester with a home match against either Plymouth or Peterborough.
Williams insisted: “It might sound boring, but we're not even thinking about that yet. We are focusing on Barnet.
“It's the FA Cup, the world's best cup competition, and we want to do well. There's also a lot of prize money at stake.”
Tonight's hosts Barnet have never progressed beyond the third round of the FA Cup. Paul Fairclough's men are in the lower half of League Two, but they are a team in form.
The Bees have won their last three home games, and won four of their last five fixtures to climb from a lowly 19th up to 13th in the table. They are now a healthy eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Jason Puncheon and Adam Birchall will be the two livewire front-men this evening. Puncheon has played against the U's before, in the colours of MK Dons, while Birchall recently signed a full-term contract from Mansfield, after a spell on loan.
Barnet's squad is packed with youth, although there are some experienced wise heads in the shape of former Gillingham player/manager Andy Hessenthaler (aged 41), much-travelled defender Paul Warhurst (aged 37) and full-back Ian Hendon (aged 35).
The two clubs have met only once before in the FA Cup, when Mick Mahon scored in the U's 1-0 win at Underhill in 1971. Dick Graham's men went on to beat mighty Leeds United 3-2 in the fifth round, before losing 5-0 at Everton in round six.
Barnet pipped the U's to the Conference title in 1991, but the U's won promotion themselves the following year and have not looked back since.
By contrast, the Hertfordshire club dropped back into the Conference again in 2001, before regaining their League status four years later.
They won 3-1 at Gainsborough in round one, before thumping League One visitors Northampton Town 4-1 in the second round.