Magnus: Captaincy became a burden

Colchester United defender Magnus Okuonghae admits that being captain of the side ‘became a burden’ last season.

The 24-year-old proved to be a revelation in his first season at the club following his transfer from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge this time last year.

He comfortably dealt with the step up in division, was handed the skipper’s armband just weeks into the season following an injury to Pat Baldwin and then barely missed a game during a gruelling campaign.

John Ward has replaced Aidy Boothroyd in the managerial hotseat this summer though and he admits he has been considering the captaincy situation.

And while the identity of the new U’s skipper won’t be known until the sides walk out at St James’ Park this afternoon, Okuonghae appears resigned to losing the responsibility.

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He said: “It was an honour to be captain, but I do feel that at the end of the season it maybe didn’t help my performances – it became a little bit of a burden.”

A number of different players have held the armband in pre-season, but the indication is that left-back Marc Tierney – who was recently pictured sat next to Ward in the official squad photo – will take on the role.

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Indeed, Okuonghae, who has missed part of pre-season training with shin splints, isn’t even sure of a starting place following the return of Baldwin to the fold under the new manager. The two played a half each in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over AFC Hornchurch in the Essex Senior Cup final and it looks set to be a straight choice between the two as to who will partner Paul Reid at centre-back today.

It just proves that competition for places at the Essex club is as fierce as ever. And with one or two new faces a possibility ahead of the close of the transfer window, Okuonghae believes the club should set its targets high.

The Nigerian-born defender said: “It’s weird that expectation levels surrounding us have dropped considering the league is not as strong as it was last year – no disrespect to the teams that have joined it.

“Regardless of what is said outside the camp, we have our own expectations and targets. Promotion still has to be the goal because we only just missed out on it last year and I don’t think we missed out through lack of quality.”

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