U’s swoop for Eastman after he rejects new Town deal

COLCHESTER United have signed teenage defender Tom Eastman on a two-year deal after he turned down the option of a six-month extension at Ipswich Town.

The 19-year-old, who is primarily a centre-back but can also operate at right-back, signed professional terms with the Suffolk club last summer and played 12 games for the Championship club towards the start of the season under Roy Keane.

The Colchester-born youngster did not appear under new boss Paul Jewell though and rejected the offer of a new six-month contract at Portman Road to join his hometown club.

He links back up with his former Ipswich mentors Richard Hall and Tony Humes who have both swapped Ipswich for Colchester in recent years.

U’s boss John Ward said: “With Richard Hall and Tony Humes on our staff, we were well aware of Tom’s background and pedigree and we have seen him play more recently for Ipswich’s reserves.

“They had offered him a six-month contract which under the rules meant we were able to move in and get him on a free transfer and he’ll be joining us for the next two years.

“As well as a player who can come in and compete now, he is also one for the future as well.

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“We will have the senior three centre-halves (Magnus Okuonghae, Pat Baldwin and Matt Heath) to be challenged for their places by Tom (Eastman) and Tom Bender. It gives us good competition in that area.”

Eastman becomes the U’s second signing of the summer following the acquisition of experienced left-back Michael Rose on a free transfer after Swindon Town cancelled his contract.

Steven Gillespie, Andy Bond and John White have all signed new contracts at the club.