Fringe players aren’t ready yet, says Ward

COLCHESTER United boss John Ward conceded that some of his fringe players need a lot more match fitness before they can be considered for the first team following last night’s 2-0 home defeat to Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round.

With it being the fourth match in a spell of five games in 15 days, the U’s manager made full use of the five changes permitted of him under the competition’s rules.

Keeper Mark Cousins and in-form midfielders David Perkins and Andy Bond were all rested, while defenders Paul Reid (leg) and Tom Williams (calf) were both enforced absentees.

In their place came Ben Williams, Matt Heath, Lloyd James, Ian Henderson and Liam Henderson, while Steven Gillespie, Tom Bender and Kayode Odejayi all came off the bench.

The aforementioned eight, Ian Henderson aside, have played very little football so far this season, compounded by the fact that reserve team fixtures have been few and far between.

And Ward felt that showed as the U’s conceded twice in the last 15 minutes to League Two opposition.

“I never pick a side that I don’t think can win a game and that was no different tonight,” said Ward.

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“I felt it was right to make a few changes to my side but in the second half I thought we made some tired decisions and that’s shown me that a few of the guys that have come into the team are not quite ready for first team football yet. They’ve not played enough recently and need some more eleven versus eleven football.

“We’re disappointed but we can also take some decent things out of this match with the likes of Liam Henderson, Steven Gillespie and young Tom Bender getting some game time.”

He added: “You could probably take my interview from last Saturday and the game before that and use it word for word again. We’ve pushed forward in the first half, created a number of chances but not finished them off.

“I didn’t want to go out of this competition because a win tonight would have taken us to within four games of the final. We haven’t been able to do that though and now we will have to work hard on Saturday (home against Huddersfield) to give our supporters something to cheer about.”

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