Elokobi is fully committed
GEORGE Elokobi is still very much a Colchester United player, even though he slapped in a transfer request last month.And the U's left-back confirmed his commitment to the cause with what proved to be the winning goal at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
By Carl Marston
GEORGE Elokobi is still very much a Colchester United player, even though he slapped in a transfer request last month.
And the U's left-back confirmed his commitment to the cause with what proved to be the winning goal at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. It was his first goal for two seasons.
Elokobi jumped at the chance of a return to the side, after regular left-back Danny Granville tweaked a hamstring last week. The 21-year-old made a big impression, especially in the Owls six-yard box, where he stabbed home a 25th minute goal to seal a 2-1 win, only to then miss a sitter from a similar position in the second-half.
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The Cameroon-born defender had always been a popular player amongst the Layer Road fans, although that relationship cooled following the announcement that he wanted to leave the U's a month ago.
Ironically, the news broke just a couple of days before the U's visit to league leaders Watford. Elokobi was an unused substitute that afternoon, but that didn't stop a small section of the visiting fans from booing him whenever he left the dug-out to warm up along the touch-line.
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He will be hoping to start in the quickfire return match against Watford this evening, pushing all transfer talk to one side. “I haven't been linked with any clubs. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still very much a Colchester player,” insisted Elokobi.
“You never know what's behind the next corner in football, but I always give 100%, and that won't change. I'm not going anywhere at the moment. It was lovely to be back playing again on Saturday. I've just kept my head down in training, because I knew that my chance would come again soon, especially with all the games coming up in the festive period. I told myself that I must take my chance, and the gaffer told me to prove myself.”
After Teddy Sheringham had broken the deadlock within the first minute, Elokobi doubled the lead by sweeping home Mark Yeates' corner to stun a Hillsborough crowd of more 22,000.
He should also have converted Johnnie Jackson's corner from just as close-in, following Sheringham's flick on 66 minutes. But the former Dulwich Hamlet defender was just delighted to be given a free rein by manager Geraint Williams, in terms of venturing upfield for corners.
“I hadn't been going up for set pieces, because the gaffer wanted someone who was strong and pacy to stay back,” revealed Elokobi. “I was desperate to go up for corners. I knew that I could cause problems. The gaffer told me to be positive in the box, and to prove him wrong.”
U's boss Williams might stick with the same team this evening. Midfielder Kem Izzet picked up his fifth booking of the season at Hillsborough, but his one-match suspension will not kick-in until Saturday's trip to Cardiff City.
Izzet's regular partner in central midfield, Kevin Watson, was sidelined for the trip to Sheffield with a calf injury, and tonight will be too early for his return. Likewise, defenders Granville (hamstring) and Bela Balogh (twisted ankle) remain on the treatment table.
Centre-half Matthew Connolly (concussion) and striker Kevin Lisbie (cut eye) were both nursing knocks after Saturday's clash.
But Lisbie should be fit to play alongside Teddy Sheringham - the 41-year-old is set to start his first home game for nearly three months - while Connolly will vie with Pat Baldwin for a place in the heart of defence.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Virgo, Elokobi, Yeates, Izzet, Jackson, McLeod, Sheringham, Lisbie, Platt, Guy, Connolly, Guttridge, Elito, Cousins.
WATFORD: Poom, Doyley, Shittu, DeMerit, Stewart, Smith, Mahon, Williamson, McAnuff, King, Henderson, O'Toole, Ellington, Jackson, Mariappa, Ainsworth, Lee, Francis, Priskin, Kabba.