Elokobi is serious about keeping place

COLCHESTER United's no-nonsense defender, George Elokobi, means business this season.Elokobi is fed up with being a fringe player at Layer Road, stuck in the reserves and on the first-team bench.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's no-nonsense defender, George Elokobi, means business this season.

Elokobi is fed up with being a fringe player at Layer Road, stuck in the reserves and on the first-team bench. The 21-year-old has come of age, and he wants to make the left-back berth his own.

He actually started the first three games of last season, but was then restricted to only a handful of starts for the remainder of the campaign, playing second fiddle to Chris Barker.

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Loanee defender Barker is now on the books of QPR, and although manager Geraint Williams recruited experienced left-back Danny Granville from Crystal Palace over the summer, it was Elokobi who got the nod at Sheffield United on Saturday.

Elokobi was outstanding in the U's opening day 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane. Williams might make a few changes tonight, for a Carling Cup first round fixture at Shrewsbury Town, but Cameroon-born Elokobi is confident that he can hold down a place in the team over the coming weeks.

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“I'm glad the gaffer has given me a chance to start the season. Now I want to stay in the team,” said Elokobi.

“I had to be very patient last season. It was difficult, because I was still learning and the team were suddenly playing at a higher level in the Championship.

“I started the first three games, but Chris Barker came in (on loan from Cardiff) and he did really well. I couldn't dislodge him.

“But I felt I did well in pre-season, and I now want to make my football do the talking. I loved playing against a winger of Keith Gillespie's talent (against Sheffield United), and that's the way for me to improve.

“I want to be facing the best wingers. I have nothing to fear and, despite all the changes over the summer, we still have a fantastic team spirit.

“We showed that against Sheffield United. Our heads never went down. We came back twice, and it was great for our fans that we scored both our goals at their end. Hopefully, we made their trip worthwhile,” added Elokobi.

Williams will make some late decisions over team selection. The quartet of Kevin Watson, Bela Balogh, Kevin Lisbie and Jamie Guy all missed the trip to Yorkshire, due to injury, while reserve keeper Aidan Davison remains dogged by a back problem.

Midfielder Watson (sore Achilles tendon) and centre-half Balogh (recovering from a broken nose) will again not feature at Shrewsbury. Lisbie and Guy face late fitness tests on their respective ankle and thigh injuries.

Teddy Sheringham might also be rested from the starting line-up tonight, after playing the full 90 minutes against the Blades. But Elokobi is looking forward to learning from 41-year-old Sheringham this season.

“It was a dream come true to play in the same team as a player like Teddy Sheringham. I never thought that would happen!” insisted Elokobi.

“He had no complaints about playing the whole 90 minutes. He was talking throughout, and helping the other guys.”

Clive Platt, who marked his U's debut with the 89th-minute equaliser at Bramall Lane, will again lead the front-line before he starts his three-match suspension against Barnsley on Saturday.

First season professionals Anthony Wordsworth, Tom Webb and Tom Devaux are all in the squad, while summer recruit Luke Guttridge is pushing for his first start.


SHREWSBURY TOWN: Garner, Moss, Drummond, Kempson, Langmead, Murdock, Hall, Herd, Pugh, Hibbert, Cooke, Leslie, Symes, Humphrey, Onibuje and MacKenzie (gk)

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Connolly, Elokobi, Yeates, Izzet, Jackson, McLeod, Platt, Lisbie, Guttridge, Granville, White, Wordsworth, Sheringham, Webb, Guy, Devaux and Cousins.

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