Dunne’s appeal to his injured players

Joe Dunne

Joe Dunne - Credit: Archant

Colchester United manager Joe Dunne has put the onus on his injured players to get themselves fit again – and quickly.

The U’s have been hampered by a glut of absentees in recent weeks, with effectively a whole team stuck in the treatment room.

But the U’s boss is hoping that at least three or four of his crocked players will return for this Saturday’s home game against Walsall.

“I’m going to put some real emphasis now on our injured players to get themselves fit,” insisted Dunne.

“They’ve got to take some responsibility now as well, to get themselves back fit.

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“My physio (Tony Flynn) is working hard, and over time we have missed them, they are key players.

“This group has done well in recent weeks, and the young players have been excellent.

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“Overall, with the squad, team and group we’ve got, I can’t criticise my players too much.

“They’ve been great over the last four games, and we have some players coming back next week.

“Gavin Massey and Tosin Olufemi should be back, and hopefully (Ryan) Dickson will be back from illness,” added Dunne.

Winger Massey has been dogged by a hamstring injury, Olufemi has had a fortnight out with a thigh problem,and Dickson has struggled with the effects of a virus for a month.

Others on the sidelines, who are unlikely to return by this weekend, are wingers Sanchez Watt (quad) and Drey Wright (knee), and centre-halves Josh Thompson and Tom Eastman (both ankle).

Second choice keeper Mark Cousins (foot) and teenager Mason Spence (hamstring) are also struggling, but striker Clinton Morrison should return after a facial infection suddenly flared up last week.

“Clinton will be fine next week,” continued Dunne. “But he will then probably need some work. The problems just keep coming.

“I enquired about the possibility of bringing another player in, an attacking player, when I knew Clinton wouldn’t be fit. But I wasn’t able to do it.”

The U’s have failed to win any of their last nine league and cup games, and have taken just five points from a possible 24 in their last eight League One outings.

However, Dunne has been hugely encouraged by the performances of some of his younger players, who have taken the step up from under-21 development level, due to the current injury crisis.

Midfielder Alex Gilbey, 18, has appeared in all but one of the first 12 games of the campaign, while the likes of Sammie Szmodics, Freddie Ladapo, Mason Spence and Conor Hubble have all enjoyed minutes on the pitch in recent weeks.

“I’ve been encouraged by what I have seen (against Wolves) and how I want to take this club forward,” continued Dunne.

“Alex Gilbey was great and Sammie Szmodics was terrific when he came on. In fact, Sammie was fantastic, with his enthusiasm, his work-rate, his quality. He combined exceptionally well with Alex, who is getting stronger every game. Alex was awesome last week, and he was awesome against Wolves.”

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