Morrison likens his boss to a ‘school-teacher’
Clinton Morrison, at the ripe old age of 34, is enjoying playing alongside a host of rookie teenagers nearly half his age.
Veteran front-runner Morrison is again set to spearhead Colchester United’s challenge, in an FA Cup first round tie at home to fellow League One outfit Sheffield United this afternoon.
The ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker silenced the Blades’ away supporters with a late equaliser in last season’s 1-1 league draw at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, and he would love to come up with another goal against the old foe.
The U’s will again be weakened by a spate of injuries, as well a number of loan absentees, which will force manager Joe Dunne into playing a few more of his youngsters today.
But that doesn’t faze Morrison, who has praised Dunne for his commitment to promoting the U’s development policy, although he did jokingly refer to his boss as “a schoolteacher.”
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Morrison insisted: “The youngsters are lucky that they have a manager who wants to play the youngsters, because I know a lot of managers who would have just gone and got three or four experienced 28 or 29-year-olds to push them in, and leave the kids waiting.
“But Colchester needs to bring their kids through. It’s not blessed with a massive budget, and that’s the future of the club.
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“Even the loanees he (Dunne) has brought in have been young. In fact, I think the gaffer just likes to be a school-teacher! But in all seriousness, it’s fair play to him. It will leave these youngsters in good stead for years to come, because they’ve had to adapt.
“Whereas me, back in my day – I won’t say this in a bad way – but I had to work real hard to get into mine (first team).
“Still, the youngsters have stepped up to the plate,” added Morrison.
Macauley Bonne marked his 18th birthday with the winner in the U’s last home game, a 1-0 win over Peterborough, while fellow Academy products Alex Gilbey and Sammie Szmodics have also been mainstays of the squad in recent weeks, with 18-year-old Gilbey starting the last 11 games.
In terms of loanees, left-back Luke Garbutt is poised to start his 10th successive game, against Sheffield United, following his loan switch from Everton.
In fact, this will be the 20-year-old’s final game of his current loan deal, although Dunne is hoping to extend it further – he was set to speak to the Goodison Park hierarchy at the end of the week.
West Ham loanee Elliot Lee, 18, and Bolton loanee Cian Bolger, 21, are both cup-tied for the Blades’ visit, as is Preston loanee Jeffrey Monakana.
Meanwhile, Morrison is relishing a new lease of life in the Colchester starting line-up, after a number of frustrating months on the periphery of the team.
“I haven’t played as much football as I have wanted to at Colchester,” confessed Morrison.
“But I’m enjoying being back in the team, and obviously the manager has given me a vote of confidence, saying that I have been doing well.
“If any footballer not playing football is happy, then there’s something wrong with him!”