Dobra on Colchester, Chambers and Skuse, his Ipswich Town goals and searching for the 'final puzzle piece'
- Credit: Pagepix
Armando Dobra’s year in Colchester is all about finding the missing piece of the puzzle.
The 20-year-old made the first appearance of his loan spell in the U’s 1-0 EFL Trophy loss to Gillingham on Tuesday night, producing a number of excellent moments as he looked to create from the left flank.
All the attributes we’ve come to expect were on show. The first of many driving runs into the box came just 30 seconds into the game, while clever twists and turns to fool defenders and work his way out of tight areas characterised an excellent first half. A constant desire to tease defenders and threaten the opposition box continued throughout, whenever he got the ball.
Those characteristics are what have made him popular with Ipswich fans and split opinion on whether he should head out on loan or remain with Paul Cook’s senior squad for the season.
But, impressive as his debut performance was, in front of the watching Cook no less, it did highlight the reason the Town boss was keen to see what he could do away from Portman Road this season.
“We all know that’s what’s missing in my game – the final product,” Dobra said, following a game which saw him get into some good positions without being able to produce the critical final touch. “I need to score more goals and get more assists.
“If I keep at it, I know it will come and, when it does come, I don’t think it will stop. It will just keep on going.
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“I would be more worried if I wasn’t getting in those positions, but I am, so I know that when it does come my confidence will come and everything will get easier.
“I like playing from the left, or as the No.10 and I’m happy to play in either of them. Wherever the manager wants me to play, I’ll play, but I need to add goals and assists to my game.”
It’s been a rollercoaster summer for the young attacker.
His return to Ipswich for pre-season saw him briefly sent to train with Kieron Dyer’s Under 23s, before quickly forcing his way back into Cook’s plans and going on to be one of the Town boss’s standout performers during the Blues’ friendly schedule. Indeed, coach Francis Jeffers described his friendly display at Colchester in July as ‘special’.
But an influx of attacking options made the path to the first-team a rocky one at a time when Dobra needs to play games and hone his craft.
The Ipswich Town first-team, though, is exactly where he wants to be this time next year.
“He told me I needed to play games,” he said of his chat with Cook, prior to going out on loan.
“The gaffer said I had done really well in pre-season but the missing bit at the end, my end product, needs to get better.
“I think with this loan I can get that experience by playing more games and that will help me take chances. When I do that then I can take the next step of breaking into the Ipswich first-team.
“The goals are to get promotion, score goals and create goals for Colchester. Then I want to go back to Ipswich and see what happens.
“I don’t shy away from the challenge and I really wanted to stay at Ipswich because I love the club a lot.
“They signed me and gave me an opportunity so I have nothing bad to say about Ipswich at all. That’s where I want to be.”
It’s impossible to ignore the Ipswich links to Colchester United this season, with Dobra’s arrival adding to the eight former Town players already in Hayden Mullins’ squad.
But, while the chance to play with the likes of Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse again was a pull, Dobra had his own reasons for choosing the Essex club as his first move away from Ipswich.
“It’s a great club,” he said. “I know some of the players from Ipswich last season and I know a few of the others as well, that obviously played a part in me coming here. I’ve known them for a long time and it’s good to see them again. They are experienced players and have always helped me.
“I did have a good chat with Skusey and Chambo before I came and they had nothing but great things to say about the club, so that was really helpful. I think they are happy here because there’s a good group of players with one goal – getting promoted.
“But there were other things, too. When I spoke to the manager and he told me about their plans for the season and the way they play, I knew it suited me.
“The manager knows what I can do and he’s given me the freedom to express myself, which is all I can really ask for from a manager. He’s been really good with me.
“There were other clubs interested in me, which was great, but I chose Colchester and I’m really excited to be here.
“I think we’ve got a very good chance of winning promotion. I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think we could do it.
“If we keep playing like that then I think we’ll be up there.”