John-Joe O’Toole wants to start afresh
EVERY footballer has high hopes, and renewed optimism, during the countdown to any new season, but John-Joe O’Toole has more reasons than most for starting afresh.
After a nightmarish last couple of seasons, ravaged by injuries and a struggle for top form, O’Toole is champing at the bit to make a big impact in League One.
Colchester United’s no-nonsense midfielder is looking to make up for lost time, and quickly.
O’Toole, who usually prefers to do his talking on the pitch, rather than in post-match interviews, spoke with a steely determination during the U’s media day, staged for the first ever time at the Essex club’s impressive new training headquarters at Florence Park, Tiptree.
The 23-year-old ex-Watford schemer means business, after chalking up a mere 27 appearances over the last couple of seasons.
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“I just want to stay fit. I think that I’m due a bit of good luck!” insisted O’Toole.
“It’s been a disappointing last couple of seasons for me. I haven’t really played half as much as I would have liked.
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“But I’ve felt pretty sharp in pre-season, although I could probably do with a full 90 minutes.
“I haven’t had what I’d call a proper full 90 minutes. The only one I’ve had was against a non-league team. I’d like a full 90 against someone more competitive.”.
The U’s entertain neighbours Ipswich Town in a pre-season friendly this evening, which is probably when O’Toole would like to get a full game under his belt.
However, there is strong competition for places in central midfield, with the likes of Kem Izzet, Andy Bond and Marcus Bean also vying for starting berths.
O’Toole could have looked elsewhere, when his contract expired this summer, but he decided to stay with the U’s and sign a new contract. Now he wants to prove a point.
“I’m still only 23, and I want to play until at least I’m 38!” continued O’Toole.
“But I can’t really be having too many seasons like the last two.
“I’ve got a point to prove to myself, but also a point to prove to any doubters I might have. I’m fine with that.
“I made a big impact when I first came to Colchester, when I was playing virtually every game.
“Obviously I then got injured, which was a bit of a shock. I thought last season that I would kick on, because the season before was disappointing, but it just ended up being a double disappointment.
“Now I’ve got double to make up for.”