Former Irish Under-21 international joins U’s

COLCHESTER United have signed left-sided player Conor Powell on a free transfer from Irish side Bohemians.

The 23-year-old, who earned nine caps for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s, was released at the end of the Irish season due to financial constraints at his club.

He has had trials at Championship clubs Doncaster and Reading recently, but joins the U’s on a 12-month contract with the Essex club holding an option of a six-month extension after that.

He is due to arrive at The Weston Homes Community Stadium next Monday and will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Reading the following day.

“He’s a good young player with things to prove,” said U’s boss John Ward, who also extended Irish striker David Mooney’s loan until the end-of-the-season this morning and is hopeful of finalising a three-month loan deal for Icelandic international midfielder Matthias Vilhjalmsson next week.

“I’ve had him (Powell) watched and had some excellent reports. He’s been on trial at a couple of Championship clubs over the last few weeks, one of which was Reading.

“I spoke to Brian McDermott there and while he said he has a plethora of left-backs he recommended him very highly to me.”

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The 2010 League or Ireland season finished in early November, with Bohemians narrowly missing out on the title to Shamrock Rovers by virtue of goal difference.

Ward says it won’t be long before Powell is challenging for a first team place though. He said: “ Hopefully he’ll play quite a few games between now and the end of the season. He’ll need a little bit of training but I don’t think it will be too long until he is ready.”

Powell’s arrival further increases speculation that U’s left-back Marc Tierney, who is out-of-contract this summer and has already rejected a new deal, is set to leave the club in a cut-price move during this month’s transfer window.

Championship clubs Norwich and Coventry, managed by former U’s managers Paul Lambert and Aidy Boothroyd respectively, are said to be weighing up an offer for his services.

Meanwhile, the U’s have decided not to sign left-back Tom Williams. The 30-year-old made seven appearances for Colchester over a three-month loan prior to Christmas but is now looking for a new club having been released by Championship club Bristol City at the end of his contract.

“Tommy did an excellent job here but we won’t be taking that any further,” said Ward.

– For more reaction to Conor Powell’s transfer to the U’s, see tomorrow’s EADT.

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