Jabo insists U’s are ‘coming out of their shells’

Jabo Ibehre

Jabo Ibehre - Credit: Archant

Colchester United, haunted for so long by the threat of relegation last season, are relishing a new lease of life in the higher echelons of League One.

Striker Jabo Ibehre insists that the whole squad is coming “out of its shell,” spurred on by the harsh experiences of last term. Furthermore, he believes that this is only just the beginning.

The U’s, fifth in the table after an unbeaten start, entertain league leaders Leyton Orient in a mouth-watering clash at the Weston Homes Community Stadium tomorrow.

For Ibehre, it has added spice – the powerful centre-forward started his career at Brisbane Road, and went on to make 243 senior appearances for the O’s, spanning eight years from 2000.

Of course there will be no room for sentiment tomorrow, and Ibehre is confident that the super-confident U’s can make a statement of intent, against the early pace-setters.

“It’s good to see the smiles on people’s faces, especially after last year,” enthused Ibehre, with reference to the final day escape from relegation at Carlisle.

“The way we finished last year, we always knew the team spirit and team bondness we showed at Carlisle, would stand us in good stead.

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“There is a real togetherness about this season. We are all pulling together, because we all know what it was like last year, when we didn’t get the results we deserved.

“There is more confidence about everyone. I think people are coming out of their shells.

“We are creating more chances now, and we have a license to express ourselves, the gaffer lets us do that.

“People believe in it more now. There’s a harder tempo to training, and I think this is just the start,” added Ibehre.

Front-runner Ibehre has every respect for surprise early leaders Leyton Orient, who have won four out of four games in League One.

“It’s still very early days,” explained Ibehre.

“But Orient have shown in the past that they can go on good runs, and get into play-off positions, although perhaps they are not as consistent as they’d like to be.

“In contrast to last year, I think the league is so much more competitive now.

“The gap between the higher and lower teams have been bridged. Teams who have a good start, and have good forwards, can really challenge, as Tranmere proved for a while last year.

“I have got a lot of good memories from my time at Leyton Orient. I came through as an apprentice, and made my debut for them.

“I have some great friends there, and I always like to go back and see them.

“We are playing against a top side, and one in form, so it will be a good statement for us if we can win.

“That would be a very good marker of how far we have come,” added Ibehre.

The 30-year-old made his league debut as a 17-year-old, for the O’s, as a late substitute in a 2-1 defeat at Northampton in March, 2000.

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