‘I haven’t been this far down south’ – Colchester United’s new striker Liam Mandeville

Liam Mandeville, who should make his U's debut against Newport County this afternoon. Picture: ANDRE

Liam Mandeville, who should make his U's debut against Newport County this afternoon. Picture: ANDREW ROE/AHPHIX LTD - Credit: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

Liam Mandeville rarely ventures that far south, unless it is for an away football match, but Colchester United’s new striker is looking forward to a new challenge down in north-east Essex.

Front-runner Mandeville, who signed on loan from Doncaster Rovers until the end of the season, on transfer deadline day on Thursday, revealed during yesterday’s press conference at Florence Park that he has never even visited London, outside footballing circles.

U’s fans, quite frankly, won’t care whether Mandeville has looked around the Capital or not, if he can score the goals to propel the League Two club into the play-offs, at the very least.

“It’s been a very quick turnaround for me,” explained Mandeville, following his short-term switch from Yorkshire.

“I only got told about a possible move on Monday, and that I could go out on loan. It’s four hours away, so it was a long journey down yesterday, but it’s definitely a move that I wanted to make.

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“I wasn’t getting that many games for Doncaster, and I need game-time, which I will hopefully get with Colchester.

“Hopefully, dropping down a level will help me, although I’m coming to a very good club in Colchester. I know what it’s like to be a part of a promotion-winning dressing room, because I went up from League Two with Doncaster only last season.

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“Now I want to help Colchester do the same, to win promotion,” added Mandeville.

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Lincoln-born Mandeville’s goalscoring record is good, especially for a young man aged just 20 – he turns 21 later this month, on February 17.

In all, he has bagged 15 goals in 63 senior appearances, at an average of nearly a goal every four fixtures, not a bad record when considered that he has made more appearances as a substitute than from the start.

He has netted nine goals in 48 league games, after making his Doncaster debut as a substitute against Bradford City on April 3, 2015, although he has found it more difficult to make an impact in League One this term.

Although he has totalled 24 appearances in all, during this season, most of these have been from the substitutes’ bench. He did not score in his first 13 games, but then netted four in six, in the 2-1 win over Rochdale (league), 1-1 draws against Scunthorpe and Rochdale (both Checkatrade Trophy) and 3-0 victory over Scunthorpe (FA Cup).

“I’m looking forward to playing at Colchester’s ground, because I haven’t played there yet,” said Mandeville. He was injured for last season’s visit, and was an unused substitute for the 4-1 defeat in April, 2016.

Mandeville continued: “It’s a very young dressing room here. Most of the lads seem to be aged about 22, but I think it’s good that these youngsters are being given a go. That’s the way it should be.

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“This is the first real time I have been away from Doncaster, except for a one-month loan at Whitby Town (Northern Premier League) when I was aged 18 (November, 2015).

“I’ve basically been at Doncaster from the age of 16, working my way up.

“There were some real highs last season, when the team was doing well and I was doing well.

“But it’s been more of a challenge for me this year. It’s been difficult for me, especially mentally, but I’m sure that this experience will just make me stronger, and ultimately a better player.

“I have been doing well in training this season, but then it’s just not been happening for me on a Saturday afternoon. That’s been tough, mentally, but I have been playing better recently and I believe that I have hit a bit of form.

“Colchester have two big strikers (Mikael Mandron and Kurtis Guthrie), and I’m looking to forward to playing alongside them, because I thrive playing off a big man.

“I’m not particularly big myself, and I wouldn’t say I am particularly quick, but I do consider myself to be a quick thinker.

“And my ability to finish is one of my main strengths.

“At the moment, though, it’s all new to me at Colchester, and I was a little nervous this morning, meeting all the lads.

“I haven’t been this far down south much. In fact, I don’t think I’ve never even been to London, outside playing football there.

“But I want to hit the ground running, and get a long run in the team,” added Mandeville.

He looks set to make his U’s debut against visiting Newport County tomorrow, and could even be thrown straight into the starting line-up.

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