It’s no joke as Colchester United face up to yet another injury crisis

U's keeper Sam Walker, the man of the match, is left rooted to the spot as Luton add to their lead d

U's keeper Sam Walker, the man of the match, is left rooted to the spot as Luton add to their lead during Saturday's 3-0 defeat. Picture: PAGEPIX

Just like last season, Colchester United boss John McGreal has found his hands tied by a spate of injuries, but it’s happening even earlier this time around.

The U’s were relatively injury-free during the first month of last term, and as a result were in the play-off zone for virtually the whole of the first seven weeks, up until late September.

Injuries then reared their ugly head during the Autumn period, with the likes of Tom Lapslie, Frankie Kent, Doug Loft, Owen Garvan and Lewis Kinsella all spending time on the sidelines.

Results dipped, with a torrid spell of no wins in 13 league and cup games seeing McGreal’s men nose-dive into the relegation zone by the middle of November.

The return of some important players, including midfielder Garvan and defender George Elokobi (from his loan spell at Braintree), prompted a dramatic turn of fortunes, to such an extent that the U’s were real play-off contenders until their injury curse struck again during the closing weeks of the campaign.

Kurtis Guthrie, Denny Johnstone, Craig Slater, Frankie Kent, Sammie Szmodics and later Brennan Dickenson were all struck down by lengthy injuries, as the U’s eventually finished just one place outside the top seven.

This season, the U’s are still waiting for their first win of the campaign, collecting just one point from their first three games, and once again injuries to key players have had a detrimental effect on team performances.

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Star man Dickenson is not likely to re-appear before February, following his knee operation, while Guthrie (ankle) and Luke Prosser (knee) have taken longer than expected to return from their injuries.

More recently, loanee Kyel Reid, fellow wing-back Ryan Jackson and midfielder Slater have also been laid-low with injuries – all three missed out during last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Luton.

“Injuries happen,” admitted McGreal. “You’re thinking boys are going to be fit, and then they fail fitness tests.

“So it’s back to where we were last year, a little bit. We have six top players out injured. We’ve got good boys in and around them, but when you are going to a place like Luton with a youthful group, it is always going to be tough.

“Craig (Slater) needs a scan on his hip, so that doesn’t sound great.

“That’s just where we are at the moment.” added McGreal.

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