George Elokobi is suddenly the lynchpin of Colchester United’s three-man central defence

George Elokobi battles with Barnet's John Akinde during the closing minutes of the U's 2-1 home win

George Elokobi battles with Barnet's John Akinde during the closing minutes of the U's 2-1 home win on Saturday. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

George Elokobi was struggling to even get into Colchester United’s 18-man squad, at the start of the season, but now the experienced defender is suddenly the U’s No. 1 centre-half!

Elokobi was farmed out on loan to Braintree Town last Autumn, to get some-much first-team action, having not even made an appearance for the U’s.

The 31-year-old regained match sharpness with seven games for The Iron, in the National League, and returned to the Weston Homes Community Stadium as fit-as-a-fiddle in November.

Thrust straight into the U’s side, for the trip to Cheltenham on November 22, with manager John McGreal introducing a new three-man central defence on the back of a winless run stretching to 13 games, Elokobi has not looked back since.

He has started all of the U’s last 12 games, kick-started by that 3-0 win at Cheltenham, and has only been on the losing side once – a 3-0 defeat at Exeter.

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Now, with the recent injuries to fellow centre-backs Tom Eastman, Frankie Kent and Lloyd Doyley, Cameroon-born Elokobi has become one of the first names on McGreal’s team-sheet.

“I hope I’m a permanent fixture, but I take nothing for granted,” explained Elokobi, in the build-up to tonight’s home match against Crawley.

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“I’ve trained hard every day, and looked after my body. I have taken my chance, when it has come around, and I hope that I can help this football club to achieve its goal of finishing in the top seven.

“It’s been a good run so far, I am counting the games in my head, probably that’s 19 games in a row now, having played seven games in a row for Braintree.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been on such a run, so I feel extremely good within my physical self.”

Eastman has been ruled out for the season, after rupturing ankle ligaments in stoppage time during the previous weekend’s 1-1 draw at Blackpool, while Kent was stretchered off with an ankle injury early on during last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Barnet.

Fellow centre-half Doyley hobbled off with a calf problem shortly afterwards, so a makeshift three-man defence of Matt Briggs and Alex Wynter, flanking sweeper Elokobi, looks set to start against Crawley.

“We can now look at this game, looking up to the table towards the play-offs, which is where we want to be,” continued Elokobi.

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