Garcia's title ambition

COLCHESTER United striker Richard Garcia believes that the U's can embark on another winning run, and so go all the way to clinch the League One title.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United striker Richard Garcia believes that the U's can embark on another winning run, and so go all the way to clinch the League One title.

Garcia is champing at the bit as the Essex club continue their quest for promotion glory, with a crunch game against visiting Southend this afternoon.

If the U's are going to mount a successful bid for the League One crown, or even automatic promotion, then they need to topple the league leaders on home turf this afternoon.

Garcia has enjoyed a successful stint in the starting line-up since the turn of the year, and he is hoping to end a mini-barren spell in front of goal, both for him and the team.

“The business end of the season starts now. We've got some big games coming up between now and the end of the season,” insisted former West Ham front-runner Garcia.

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“We have games in hand over most of our rivals, and we want to make those count. We have dropped a little bit down the table (to fourth spot), but that's the nature of this league.

“It's so tight that you can drop a couple of points and suddenly be down in sixth position. But I'm looking forwards, rather than backwards.

“I think that we are capable of starting another winning run. We are looking to the top two, and I reckon we can go on and win the league,” added Garcia.

Phil Parkinson's men enjoyed a three-day break in Portugal during the first half of the week, following a hectic schedule of fixtures. They are now feeling refreshed for the final 13 league games of the regular season, in addition to at least two games (and hopefully three!) in the LDV Vans Trophy.

Colchester travel to Swansea City for the first leg of their southern area final next Tuesday evening, with a trip to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium up for grabs, but they aren't even thinking about that fixture just yet.

Pace-setters Southend are five points clear of the fourth-placed U's, and gunning for a league double. A lot rests on today's sell-out clash.

“We are hungry for a win. We've gone four games without a victory, and it's amazing that we haven't managed to score in the last three league games,” continued Garcia.

“We haven't had much luck lately. We just weren't on cue at Barnsley (1-0 defeat) last weekend, and we missed several chances at Huddersfield (2-0 reverse) and against Walsall (goalless draw).

“But the break in Portugal was good. There wasn't too much sun, but we were able to relax and take stock.

“Losing at Southend (3-1 on August 29) was probably the low point of our season. It was the kick up the backside that we needed, and we haven't looked back since. That defeat kick-started our season.

“We have a good squad, and even with injuries, we have been able to introduce some good replacements, so the chopping and changing hasn't affected us.

“It's been a relief to play regularly since the turn of the year. Before that, I was in and out of the team, usually on the substitutes' bench, which made it difficult for me to come in and get into the flow.

“Now I've had a run in the side, and I'm into the rhythm. I've scored a few goals, and hopefully I can score a few more, and crucial ones at that!” added Garcia.

The Australian 24-year-old has netted eight goals, seven of those since the turn of the year, including braces in the recent home wins over Port Vale and Bradford.

He is set to resume his partnership with leading scorer Chris Iwelumo this afternoon. Iwelumo has 16 goals to his name, although the Scotsman has only hit the target three times in the last 16 matches.

Parkinson has no new injury worries. He is therefore set to select from the same squad as last weekend, with John White and Tony Thorpe added to an 18-man squad. Left-back White was rested for the trip to Barnsley.

By the end of tonight, depending on the outcome of the Essex derby and results elsewhere, the U's could be as high as second, or as low as sixth.


COLCHESTER UNITED: Davison, Duguid, Baldwin, Brown, White, Halford, Watson, Danns, Yeates, Iwelumo, Garcia, Williams, Izzet, Chilvers, Stockley, Elokobi, Thorpe, Richards and Gerken.

SOUTHEND UNITED: Flahavan, Jupp, Sodje, Barrett, Wilson, Gower, Guttridge, Maher, Eastwood, Goater, Bradbury, Hunt, Pettefer, Smith, Bentley and Wright.

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