Gillespie looks to catch Preston cold

TWO years ago, Colchester United famously shocked newly-relegated Norwich City in an opening day annihilation at Carrow Road.

TWO years ago, Colchester United famously shocked newly-relegated Norwich City in an opening day annihilation at Carrow Road.

It’s obviously asking too much for the U’s to repeat the sort of 7-1 drubbing that they inflicted on the Canaries that day, but striker Steven Gillespie believes the U’s can catch Preston North End cold this afternoon.

The Lilywhites, like the Canaries of two years ago, might take time to readjust to life outside the Championship. So the U’s can strike while the iron is hot.

“Preston are a massive club, which I appreciate being a big Liverpool fan, as they have the Bill Shankley stand there,” explained Gillespie.

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“Deepdale has loads of history, and they have some big players there.

“But hopefully we can catch them early, before they get settled into League One.

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“I am expecting Preston to be pushing for promotion, but hopefully we can catch them cold,” added Gillespie.

Despite yet another season truncated by injury, Gillespie still contributed nine goals in just 18 league appearances for the U’s last season.

So if the 27-year-old ex-Cheltenham marksman can stay fit this term, he could just be the answer to manager John Ward’s prayers.

“I have learned not to set targets for myself at the start of a season,” admitted Gillespie.

“I just play as many games as possible, and fortunately the goals have always come. My goal-ratio has been good throughout my career. It’s just getting those games in.

“I’ve got to concentrate on getting me out there every week, that’s the main thing for me. Then the goals will come as well.”

Ward looks like settling for a 4-5-1 formation this afternoon, although he could opt for a slight variation with a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

It would seem, therefore, that Gillespie will be on the bench, set to be introduced during the second half with Kayode Odejayi starting.

At least he has had a full week of training under his belt, after his most recent injury scare.

Gillespie confirmed: “I slipped awkwardly at Bury Town, and thought it was going to be serious.

“But it hasn’t been a problem. There was no point in risking it against Ipswich or Watford, but I am fighting fit again.”

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