Look on the bright side says Danny

COLCHESTER United may have hit rock bottom, but defender Danny Granville is looking on the bright side.“The only way is up!” insisted Granville, on the eve of today's crunch Boxing Day encounter at home to Southampton.

By Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United may have hit rock bottom, but defender Danny Granville is looking on the bright side.

“The only way is up!” insisted Granville, on the eve of today's crunch Boxing Day encounter at home to Southampton.

The U's are in desperate need of a victory, after a lean spell that has seen them collect just seven points from a possible 36 in their last 12 matches.

The main problem has been conceding too many goals (41), as opposed to scoring them (they have bagged 35 goals in 23 games, an impressive ratio for a club at the bottom of the table!)

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Granville has operated as a left-back during the U's last couple of matches, following a lay-off because of injury. And he can see light at the end of the tunnel.

“We've got to do better, we know that. The lads are keeping their heads up, and we are determined not to let the situation get to us,” insisted Granville.

“It's just not going for us at the moment. We conceded an equaliser in the last minute against Norwich, and we deserved to get a point at QPR.

“We're going to roll up our sleeves, and keep believing. There's some very important games coming up, starting with Southampton. It's vital that we keep it tighter as a team,” added Granville.

The 32-year-old defender arrived on a free transfer from Crystal Palace over the summer, and has quietly gone about settling into the team, after spending the first couple of months on the substitutes' bench.

He is now looking to summon up all of his considerable experience, accrued at the likes of Cambridge United, Chelsea, Leeds (£1.6m fee), Manchester City (£1m fee) and Palace (nearly five years), to help mastermind the U's climb back up the table.

Scoring an own goal in the last home match, which earned visiting Norwich a 1-1 draw, has not preyed on his mind, although he was very disappointed not to take anything from Saturday's 2-1 defeat at QPR.

Granville continued: “We were the better team in the second-half, and we should have been given a late penalty (for a push on Kevin Lisbie).

“The defender was the last man, so he should have been sent off as well. We had other chances, and Teddy (Sheringham) hit a post from close-in when on another day that would have gone in. I reckon if that went in, then we would have won the game.

“We know that we didn't play well in the first-half at QPR. It was very tense out there. Perhaps we were too worried about making mistakes, when we should have been more positive.

“But there's not a problem with self-belief. It's always tough when you're at the bottom, and no one likes to be there, but we're ready for the challenge,” said Granville.

Skipper Karl Duguid and striker Lisbie were both on the bench at Loftus Road, following spells out through injury and illness respectively. Both will be pushing for a start this afternoon.

However, midfielder Kem Izzet is a doubt after cutting his thumb to the bone, and dislocating it, during the first-half against Rangers.

Luke Guttridge stands by, having enjoyed his longest run-out for the U's in a league game (54 minutes) since his summer move from Leyton Orient. Fellow midfielder Kevin Watson is still struggling to overcome a calf strain. The U's are two points adrift at the bottom, and three points away from safety, following an unwelcome set of results over the weekend. In addition to their defeat at previous basement dwellers QPR, fellow strugglers Preston (at today's opponents Southampton), Blackpool (against 10-man Coventry) and Norwich (at Scunthorpe) all won.

Three games in the next seven days could go a long way to deciding the U's fate this season. If their winless run continues, then they could find themselves marooned at the foot of the table.

Alternatively, a couple of home wins over Southampton and Blackpool (on Saturday) would propel them out of the relegation zone again. It's that tight.

Rediscovering last season's prolific home form is the key. The U's have only won twice at Layer Road, and have failed to win any of their last five home fixtures.

With exactly half the campaign gone, they have already lost as many home games (four) as the whole of last season. The tide must turn soon.

Today's squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Virgo, Granville, Yeates, Jackson, Guttridge, McLeod, Platt, Lisbie, Sheringham, Balogh, Guy, Izzet, Elito, Elokobi, Connolly, Cousins.

SOUTHAMPTON: Davis, Wright, Davies, Bennett, Skacel, Hammill, Safri, Euell, Surman, John, Wright-Philips, Rasiak, Viafara, Thomas, Powell, Lallana, Bialkowski.

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