Martin Rowlands can’t wait to start U’s career

NO ONE was more frustrated by the postponement of Saturday’s Colchester United home fixture, against high-flying Sheffield United, than new recruit Martin Rowlands.

Central midfielder Rowlands cannot wait to start playing again, after being restricted to just 23 minutes of league action for his old club QPR over the last two seasons.

The 32-year-old did chalk up 10 appearances while on loan at Wycombe Wanderers earlier this term, but he has only played one competitive game for Rangers’ reserves since the turn of the year.

Rowlands was set to make his U’s debut against the fourth-placed Blades, but now he will have to wait until next weekend’s visit to struggling Walsall.

Having been stuck in the wilderness at QPR for two seasons, firstly due to injury and then an inability to break into Neil Warnock and then Mark Hughes’ set-up at Loftus Road, seven more days shouldn’t make too much difference.

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And that’s especially as Rowlands is looking beyond his initial four-month contract with the U’s – he wants to earn a longer deal this summer.

Rowlands refers to his old club in glowing terms – he signed for the West London club from Brentford in 2003 – but also describes the frustrations of more recent times.

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“It’s a bit of a wrench to leave QPR because I had been there a long time and had some great times,” explained Republic of Ireland international Rowlands.

“QPR are a completely different club to when I joined them as a League One club nine years ago, and I do take pride in my achievements there.

“But they are now under new ownership and have built themselves into a Premier League club.

“I spoke to Mark Hughes (new QPR manager) a few times. He wanted to have more of a look at me, but I went to see him at the end of month because I wanted to look to my own future as well.

“With the new manager coming in, they have made a lot of new signings, and if you are not going to be in the squad or playing, then you are better to move on and play football.

“He was fantastic with me, allowing me to come here by settling my contract at QPR.”

London-born Rowlands’ league career began at Brentford, after he signed from Farnborough Town in 1998.

He rattled up 152 league appearances for the Bees, before his switch to neighbours QPR, where he helped the R’s to promotion to the new Championship in his first full season of 2003-04.

Now, though, he is looking forward to settling at Colchester, and re-igniting his career.

Rowlands continued: “I had a few options, but to be honest once I had spoken to the Colchester manager (John Ward) a few times, it seemed to be the right thing to do. I felt quite comfortable with coming here.

“In the economic climate, everything is changing, and it’s the same for footballers. Come this summer there will be a lot of footballers out of work again.

“I just want to get back playing regular football, and then see what happens in the long term as well.

“The infrastructure that is being put together behind the scenes, and what they are building for the future at Colchester, is fantastic.

“Not many clubs at any level are doing the things that are being done at Colchester, so with the new ground and the new training ground being built, it’s a club that is looking to move forward.

“They are moving in right direction, and I’d like to be a small part of it.”

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