Gillespie: I’ve got a lot to prove
STRIKER Steven Gillespie hopes he can rescue his Colchester United career after playing the starring role in the club’s Friday night television drama.
This time last week there looked little chance of the 25-year-old Liverpudlian getting a contract extension once his current deal expired this summer – a string of injuries limiting him to just 16 league starts during his two-and-a-half seasons at the club.
However, just as U’s supporters were facing up to the fact that the man their club paid a record �400,000 to Cheltenham for in 2008 might end up getting released without ever really justifying his price tag, the pacey frontman gave them a tantalising glimpse that it could still happen for him in Essex last Friday night.
With the U’s trailing 1-0 to Bournemouth in front of the Sky cameras, manager John Ward made the surprise decision to throw on Gillespie for his first league appearance of the season. And the infectiously upbeat striker responded with a fine match-winning brace.
“I definitely want to earn a new contract at Colchester,” said Gillespie. “I’m settled here and feel I’ve still got a lot to prove to the fans. I was brought here to score goals and I know I haven’t done that enough so far.
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“The fans have always been great to me here and they don’t half make me feel good. Hopefully (on Friday) I sent them home as happy as they make me feel when they are singing my name.”
Gillespie, who played under Ward at Cheltenham previously, added: “The gaffer has known me since I was 19; he knows my flaws, he knows my good bits, he knows everything about me so there’s no point trying to fool him because he’d see straight through it.
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“We’ve sat down quite a few times and I’ve said that I just want to play and do what I can do and that’s score goals.
“I’m feeling as strong and as good as I have in a long time. It’s now just a case of getting match strength in my legs and that will only come with a run of appearances, although I know it’s not going to be easy for me because the lads have been doing really well.
“All I’m doing at the moment is concentrating on getting in the side and then trying to do well once I’m there. Hopefully then the rest will take care of itself.”
Ward admitted following last Friday’s game that Gillespie is in ‘last chance saloon’ when it comes to his Colchester career. He added yesterday: “Steven knows he hasn’t played enough football since I’ve been here and he knows he’s got to work hard to his next contract – wherever it may be.
“He’s as fit and strong as I’ve seen him now though and if carries on like he did on Friday night he’ll give himself a good chance.”