Lambert starts to speak to his players

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert wants to offload players this summer, but much may depend on how much interest is generated from other clubs.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert wants to offload players this summer, but much may depend on how much interest is generated from other clubs.

Lambert is keen for a big clear-out at the Community Stadium, as he bids to rebuild for next season, though has hands are tied by the majority of his squad still being under contract.

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The Scotsman met individually with each of his players yesterday, to give his opinions on the season just gone, and his plans for the campaign ahead.

There is still likely to be many ins-and-outs during the close-season, although this will be a gradual process rather than players leaving en masse.

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The example of Matt Heath is a case in point. The ex-Leeds and Leicester centre-half has not had much of a look-in under Lambert, and was even farmed out on loan at Brighton before at least enjoying a rare 90 minutes of action for the U's on the final day of the season at Yeovil.

Like Heath, fellow central defender and club captain Chris Coyne has also found his opportunities restricted in recent months. The former Luton stalwart has only made seven appearances since the turn of the year.

On the face of it, then, Heath and Coyne might seem to be players set for transfers elsewhere.

But as Heath explained to the EADT last night, he is still under contract with the U's. The same applies to Coyne.

“I've still got two years on my contract, so as far as I'm concerned I'm still very much a Colchester United player,” revealed Heath.

“That's the case with most of the lads. The manager spoke to us all individually, about the season that has just finished and about his hopes for next season.

“I'm sure that there will be some ins-and-outs over the summer, but that's the same with most clubs.

“We will have to wait and see what happens over the summer, but I'm still a Colchester player unless I hear something different.

“Most of the lads are still under contract, so they'll still be here unless other clubs come in and buy people.

“I know that Pat (Baldwin) is one of the few who is out-of-contract soon, but I have a feeling that the gaffer will be keeping him,” added Heath wryly.

Fellow centre-half Baldwin is currently in talks with the club over a new contract.

Coyne has more immediate concerns - his season is still very much in progress, because he will be involved in Australia's next set of World Cup qualifying games over the next few weeks.

“This season has been really disappointing for me, and I put that down to not having a pre-season for the first time in my career,” explained Coyne, who was also playing for Australia last summer.

“We have some big games coming up, away in Qatar and then at home to Bahrain in Sydney and the big one against Japan in Melbourne. We only need one more point to qualify.

“After that I'll be wrapping myself up in cotton wool this time. I want to make sure that I am ready for next season, and the manager has given me an extra week to recover. I'll be back on July 6/7 rather than July 1,” added Coyne.

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