‘I feel I could give a good stint’ – Colchester United’s Brennan Dickenson

Brennan Dickenson delivers a cross against Plymouth, with Graham Carey in close attendance, in April

Brennan Dickenson delivers a cross against Plymouth, with Graham Carey in close attendance, in April, 2017. It was his last appearance before he was struck down by a knee injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Brennan Dickenson is back, and he means business.

Brennan Dickenson, who is remaining positive despite the U's recent slump in fortunes. Picture: STEV

Brennan Dickenson, who is remaining positive despite the U's recent slump in fortunes. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Almost 10 months since he suffered a serious knee injury, Dickenson made his long-awaited return to the Colchester United starting line-up for Tuesday night’s 2-1 home victory over Coventry City.

The 24-year-old left-sided specialist, who had such a dynamic first season with the U’s last term, following his switch from Gillingham, was introduced as a 78th minute substitute against the Sky Blues.

He responded by having a hand in striker Mikael Mandron’s winning goal, on 88 minutes, via his initial dangerous cross into the penalty area.

In fact, it was as if Dickenson had never been away!

The strong running, his trademark, was clearly evident, as was his capacity to deliver a cracking cross.

“It had been a while!” joked Dickenson.

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“I was very excited, but a little nervous as well, although that was to be expected.

“I’m happy with what I did, getting the ball in the box (with the first phase) that led to setting up the winning goal.

“I’m glad to have made an impact.

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“My return to fitness has been right on schedule. It will be nine months, on the 24th (February 24) when I had the surgery, and 10 months since I did the injury.

“Happy days, I am back fit now and there’s still a quarter of the season to go, so there’s a dozen or so games to make an impact and help the team.”

Dickenson made such a big impact against Coventry, that boss John McGreal is even considering a starting place for him at lowly Crewe Alexandra tomorrow. The Railwaymen are currently third-from-bottom, a mere three points above the relegation zone.

By contrast, the U’s are just three points adrift of the League Two play-offs, with 13 fixtures remaining, on the back of just three defeats in 20 league matches.

“If I only play for 20 minutes, then so be it, but if I start then I will give it my all for the 60 or 70 minutes that I am on the pitch,” insisted Dickenson.

“If I don’t get back into the starting XI over the next few games, then I’ll just be patient. There’s no pressure on me.

“But I think the fact that there are no midweek games will work in my favour, because it means I will be able to rest up during the week after a Saturday match.

“It’s hard to get back to a peak level of fitness, but I’m feeling strong.

“I feel that I’m close to being OK to start a match.

“I’m perhaps not perfectly ready, but I will give 110% if the gaffer (John McGreal) gives me a start.

“I feel I could give a good stint, and this is a big chance to prove myself again.

“It’s a bit like the situation with Luke (Prosser), who was also out for such a long time. Luke has now been back playing for the last three or four games, and is doing very well.

“Although I don’t feel any pressure, I do have some weight on my shoulders to return to the sort of player that I was before the injury.

“At least I am coming back into a squad which has hit some form. It’s a very positive environment, the team is playing well.”

Dickenson finished last season as the U’s second joint leading scorer, with 12 goals, despite playing most of the season out on the left flank, either as a winger of a wing-back.

There have been many new arrivals, in the intervening 10 months since his injury, but Dickenson will not take long to gel with the relative newcomers.

“I suppose you could say that it is a little bit of a new team, but I have been in-and-around the new players on the training ground since they’ve been here,” continued Dickenson.

“I have tried to take it in my stride. It’s very competitive trying to get in the starting XI, and on a personal note, I’ve been out for so long that I am not expected to just jump straight back into the team, especially as the players currently with the shirt have been doing so well of late.

“Hopefully, Tuesday night will be the start of a potentially good run to get us into the play-offs, at the very least, if not the top three.

“We need to claw back some of the points that we have dropped of late, and we will be fighting to the end, that’s for sure.

“I have had to be careful not to be over-exuberant, especially when it was coming towards the end of my rehabilitation period.

“I had to keep holding myself back in certain areas – I certainly didn’t want to dive into any crazy tackles, and risk getting injured again.

“It’s a mental thing, to get the right balance,” concluded Dickenson.

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