Greg is free to go, says U's manager

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams insists that he will not stand in the way of Greg Halford, if the right offer comes his way.The highly-rated Halford lodged a transfer request just a few hours before playing in the U's 1-0 defeat at MK Dons, in a Carling Cup first round tie on Tuesday evening.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams insists that he will not stand in the way of Greg Halford, if the right offer comes his way.

The highly-rated Halford lodged a transfer request just a few hours before playing in the U's 1-0 defeat at MK Dons, in a Carling Cup first round tie on Tuesday evening.

Halford is the latest in a long line of prominent Colchester players who have decided that their future lies elsewhere, at a bigger club. Craig Fagan, Wayne Andrews, Neil Danns and Liam Chilvers are recent examples, as of course is also former manager Phil Parkinson.

Williams remains intent on bringing in some new players, before the transfer deadline at the end of this month, but he might have to face up to the prospect of losing Halford, if the U's receive an offer that they find difficult to refuse.

“I will not stand in Greg's way. He is a young man with ambition,” admitted Williams.

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“He was magnificent against MK Dons. I had a word with him before the match, after he had made his transfer request, telling him that if he didn't keep performing, then he would be unlikely to get another club.

“He is still under contract with us, and if he doesn't keep playing well, then our asking price won't be met. I don't think that Greg would be happy to go to a club in this division (Championship), so he will have to play very well to get into the Premiership.

“To my knowledge, we have not had any new offers for Greg over the last few days, and none of the offers we have had in the past have come near to what we think he is worth.

“The scouts are at most of our games, but the days at Colchester United when we would let our best players go for a nominal fee are long gone.

“I believe that Greg is good enough to play in the Premiership, if he lives up to his potential. A lot of people believe that, although the last time there was all this transfer speculation, his form dipped a lot.

“He's a nice lad, who just happens to think that now is the right time to move on. There is no animosity between him and the club. There are no hard feelings. He's been a great servant to the club.

“Of course it's very frustrating for me, and I understand the fans' frustration as well. We have had a lot of success, but the size of the club means that it's difficult for us to hold onto our top players,” added Williams.

The versatile Halford, who can play in a variety of positions, is a product of the Layer Road youth team system. He has attracted interest from a host of clubs over the last couple of seasons, including the likes of Newcastle, Manchester United, Tottenham and Norwich.

The 21-year-old has made 134 senior appearances for the U's, and he will continue to play an important part in the Essex club's quest for points in the Championship, unless a big offer is put on the table from another club.

The transfer deadline comes into effect at the end of this month, so clubs will have to act fast.

Meanwhile, Williams was again cursing his luck after watching the U's squander a host of gilt-edged chances in Tuesday night's Carling Cup reverse at League Two hosts MK Dons.

Since the Welshman took charge, following Parkinson's departure for Hull City, the U's have lost four games on the bounce. They entertain Derby County in a Championship fixture on Saturday.

“I couldn't have asked for anymore from my players. I thought they were magnificent,” explained Williams.

“However, once again we have got in some great positions, especially in the first half, without being able to work their keeper enough. That is down to anxiety.

“The finishing in training is excellent, but they are so desperate to do well when they get on the pitch, that they begin snatching at things,” added Williams.

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