Hammond relishes Town test
COLCHESTER United skipper Dean Hammond believes that today's pre-season fixture at Ipswich will be a good gauge for the new season.The U's have so far impressed in their warm-up games, with victories over Tiptree United, German side Troisberg FC and Heybridge Swifts, plus a spirited 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.
COLCHESTER United skipper Dean Hammond believes that today's pre-season fixture at Ipswich will be a good gauge for the new season.
The U's have so far impressed in their warm-up games, with victories over Tiptree United, German side Troisberg FC and Heybridge Swifts, plus a spirited 2-2 draw against Aston Villa.
Today, Hammond is set to lead out the U's at Portman Road for Fabian Wilnis' Testimonial, just two weeks before the new season starts at Norwich City.
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“I always like local derbies, and it will be good to play at Portman Road. It's very similar to Carrow Road, so it will be an ideal warm-up for the lads ahead of the first game of the season,” explained Hammond.
“Pre-season has been going well. The gaffer has brought in several new players, and now we can test ourselves against a very good Ipswich team. We will need to be sharp.
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“We have built up a winning habit in our pre-season games, and we want that to continue.
“We want that to carry on into the season proper. That didn't quite happen last year, but then this is now a very different team, with a different manager and different strengths.
“I think we are mentally strong. We want to be winners, which is something that the manager has instilled in us,” added Hammond.
The 26-year midfield general, who moved from his home club Brighton to join the U's for �250,000 in January, 2008, has developed into a key figure under manager Paul Lambert.
Hammond often struggled to make an impression under former boss Geraint Williams, but he has certainly relished the chance to captain the side since Lambert's arrival last October.
And he is impressed that the Scotsman has managed to recruit several new players this summer, including keeper Ben Williams, defenders Lee Beevers and Magnus Okuonghae, midfielder David Fox, winger Ashley Vincent and striker Joel Thomas. The experienced Gary Holt also signed yesterday.
“We are playing in a different way, and a new season means a fresh start,” continued Hammond.
“I think that we look more solid, and I reckon we will be harder to beat. I also think that we have more pace in the team, which is perhaps something that we needed.”
Defender Paul Reid remains on the comeback trail from a broken knee cap, and will not be ready for the start of the season, while striker Steven Gillespie is again likely to miss out today with a tweaked hamstring.
David Perkins, Marc Tierney and Vincent all missed the 1-0 win at Heybridge on Thursday evening, nursing slight knocks, but all are confident of being fit for the Portman Road clash.
Striker Scott Vernon scored the winner at Scraley Road with a stunning long-range strike, to rattle up his third goal is as many games. He will be looking to continue that scoring run today.