Dunne’s plea to Gilbey – “Just play games!”

Alex Gilbey stretches for the ball early on against Bradford at Valley Parade

Alex Gilbey stretches for the ball early on against Bradford at Valley Parade

Colchester United boss Joe Dunne has hit out at Alex Gilbey’s decision to turn down the offer of a new contract.

Instead, Dunne has a message for his up-and-coming midfielder – “just play games, play games!”

Fledgling midfielder Gilbey, who has just broken into the U’s senior starting line-up, is highly-rated and looks set for a promising career in the game.

However, Dunne believes that Gilbey, who is only 18, would be better suited to learning his trade at the League One club, and accumulating a good number of appearances, before moving on to pastures new.

The Dubliner highlighted the examples of some of Gilbey’s predecessors, who all established themselves as Colchester United regulars before signing for ‘bigger’ clubs – such as Mark Kinsella and Martin Grainger in the 1990s, and more recent U’s stars like Greg Halford, George Elokobi and Anthony Wordsworth.

“Alex has turned down the offer of a new contract, and it can’t be for footballing reasons, because he is playing!” explained Dunne.

“The contract is there for him to sign. He’s not sitting on it, he’s turned it down, and it’s not getting improved. It’s with him and his representatives.

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“The offer will still be there, so if someone wants him, they will have to pay for him, if that’s what the stall is.

“However, his attitude continues to be great. We talk every day, and he is training well.

“Alex has got a manager who has known him, since the age of 13 or 14, and his focus should always remain football,” added Dunne.

The Essex club’s contracts, for players coming through the development system, are ability-based, with the emphasis on rewarding players for the number of games played.

Dunne continued: “We believe in what we want to do as a team. The contracts are ability-based.

“The more you play, then the contract will improve itself. Its an automatic improvement, depending on the amount of games you play.

“That contract improves, for every 10 games you play. It’s a significant pay-rise

“All the other guys have signed it. Players are two-a-penny who have gone and moved to other clubs, and yet are not now playing, ending up not even in League One!”

Dunne used his own assistant manager, Kinsella, as a prime example of a young player benefiting from several years of experience playing for the U’s, before going on to play for the likes of Charlton and West Brom, and also the Republic of Ireland.

“Play games, play games!” insisted Dunne.

“I don’t think Mark Kinsella left here until he was 24, and he ended up playing in World Cups!

“Mark is a great example. We have someone in the building who young players can talk to.

“If you are good enough, you will eventually move on, like Anthony Wordsworth, who was 24 before he left here to go to Ipswich.

“He played over 200 games, so play games! That was what the likes of Martin Grainger, George Elokobi and Greg Halford did.”

Gilbey started only his fourth league game, in a U’s shirt, during last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bradford City, and he could well start again tomorrow, against visiting Crawley Town, especially as Freddie Sears is not 100% fit due to a groin problem.

The Dagenham-born midfielder, who used to captain the U’s youth team, signed a two-and-a-half-year contract in February, 2012, but that is set to expire next summer.

“I think Alex should stay,” confirmed Dunne.

“He should stay and play games for us. Then eventually his move will come.

“For me, from my personal point of view, one of the big things that is destroying young players these days is this – do you want to play football, or do you want to chase the money?

“That other stuff will come anyway, if you are good enough and play the games.

“But chase the dollar now, or the euro or the pound? You might be good, but you haven’t got many games under your belt.

“I’m a great believer that the respect you earn in the game is not about the size of your house, or what car you drive, but how many games you played and what you achieved in the game.”

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