Iwelumo hoping for bench duty

CHRIS Iwelumo would willingly play through the pain barrier to help Colchester United extend their sequence of victories.Iwelumo is currently struggling with a knee injury that forced him to miss out on Tuesday night's 1-0 victory at Cheltenham, which propelled the U's into the southern area final of the LDV Vans Trophy.

By Carl Marston

CHRIS Iwelumo would willingly play through the pain barrier to help Colchester United extend their sequence of victories.

Iwelumo is currently struggling with a knee injury that forced him to miss out on Tuesday night's 1-0 victory at Cheltenham, which propelled the U's into the southern area final of the LDV Vans Trophy.

It is unlikely that Iwelumo will be fit to start against Derby County in tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie, but the big Scotsman would love to play some part in this sell-out fixture.


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“The big games keep coming thick and fast, and everyone is enjoying it,” revealed Iwelumo after yesterday's training session at the University of Essex.

“I'm still struggling a little with my knee, so I probably won't start against Derby. The knee has been getting better, and I've been taking it easy.

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“The break has helped. I'd love to perhaps be a substitute on Saturday, but that's not up to me. I'm in the hands of the physio. If it was up to me, then I'd play every game, even if I had a broken ankle!” added Iwelumo.

Former Stoke and Brighton target-man Iwelumo has played in every minute of the U's League One campaign. He tops the Layer Road charts with 14 goals.

In fact, the 26-year-old has only been absent in the LDV Vans Trophy. As well as helping the U's to rise to top spot in League One, he has also bagged a couple of goals in the FA Cup, including a vital one in the 2-1 victory at Shrewsbury in round two.

“The FA Cup has been good to me over the years. I've scored a lot of goals,” continued Iwelumo.

“I reached the fifth round on a couple of occasions with Stoke, and it would be great to do the same with Colchester. We had some big games when I was at Stoke. Our run was ended by Chelsea one year, and Everton the next.

“The League programme asks a lot of the players, with 46 games to contend with, and some people say that there shouldn't be any distractions.

“However, the FA Cup brings in some welcome revenue for a club like Colchester, and it's a great competition to play in.

“Derby perhaps wasn't the best draw we could have had. But it's not an impossible to task to beat them. They have been very up and down,” added Iwelumo.

Striker Iwelumo was one of five regulars to miss out through injury at Cheltenham, and none of them are likely to figure against Derby.

Centre-halves Wayne Brown and Liam Chilvers are definite absentees, after both undergoing operations this week, while midfielder Kevin Watson is out for a few weeks with medial knee ligament damage.

Keeper Aidan Davison enjoyed a light training session yesterday, but he too might have to wait until next week before making his return to the side.

Manager Phil Parkinson confirmed that his injured players were making good progress, but that tomorrow's fixture will come too soon.

“I've been very philosophical about all these injuries. We always knew that we would get some, though not all of them coming at once!” explained Parkinson. The injuries were incurred during last weekend's 2-1 home win over Port Vale.

“Other players have come in. They are hungry and have fresh legs, and now I'll have to sit down with the coaching staff and select a team for the Derby match. I will select the fittest and strongest squad possible.

“It will be a full house, and there should be a tremendous atmosphere,” added Parkinson.

The U's will at least welcome back left-winger Mark Yeates. The Tottenham loanee missed the midweek win at Cheltenham due to a one-match suspension.

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