James up for Trophy

LLOYD James has had to bide his time to force his way into the Colchester United starting line-up this season, and now he wants to stay there.

LLOYD James has had to bide his time to force his way into the Colchester United starting line-up this season, and now he wants to stay there.

Midfielder James impressed during the U’s 4-1 victory over Oldham Athletic on Saturday, and he is hoping to retain his place for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy first round tie at home to Barnet (kick-off 7.30pm).

U’s boss John Ward will make changes for this evening’s clash, but the competition rules state that he cannot completely overhaul his team. He must select at least six of his first-team regulars.

James was on the bench for the first five games, before being preferred to Kem Izzet in central midfield against the Latics.

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And the 23-year-old Welshman caught the eye, looking comfortable on the ball as well as delivering some dangerous crosses from set pieces.

However, he is taking nothing for granted.

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“It’s a very strong squad here, and I have had to wait up on my chance,” explained James. “I was happy with my performance, and now I want a run in the team.

“But you are always looking over your shoulder, because there are good players throughout the squad. We are looking to do more of the same against Barnet, and I’d love to play in that one.”

A product of Southampton’s Academy, James chalked up 71 league appearances for the Saints before he was released in the summer of 2010. Ward then signed him up on a two-year deal.

The U’s boss is set to hand first starts of the campaign to several of his squad tonight. Keeper Ben Williams, centre-half Pat Baldwin, midfielder Andy Bond, striker Steven Gillespie and full-back John White are amongst those pushing for a rare 90 minutes.

Visiting Barnet have taken five points from their first five games of the season, chiefly due to the goal-scoring prowess of Izale McLeod.

Front-runner McLeod, who had a loan stay at Colchester cut short by serious injury in 2008, is League Two’s top marksman with five goals.

The 26-year-old netted both goals in Barnet’s 4-2 defeat at then-managerless Bradford City on Saturday. The Bantams appointed ex-Colchester boss Phil Parkinson as their new manager yesterday.

The U’s reached the final of this competition back in 1997, when Steve Wignall’s men lost a penalty shoot-out to Carlisle at Wembley. The game had ended goalless after extra-time.

Karl Duguid, who returned to the U’s this summer after a three-year spell at troubled Plymouth, missed one of the penalties in that heart-breaking loss to Carlisle. He had only just turned 19.

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