No Sheringham but triallists get chance

HIGH-profile signing Teddy Sheringham will be a notable absentee when Colchester United kick-off their pre-season campaign with a friendly at Heybridge Swifts this afternoon.

By Carl Marston

HIGH-profile signing Teddy Sheringham will be a notable absentee when Colchester United kick-off their pre-season campaign with a friendly at Heybridge Swifts this afternoon.

However, U's boss Geraint Williams is set to give run-outs to his other five summer signings, as well as casting his eye over two interesting triallists - striker Kevin Lisbie and defender Bela Balogh.

Lightning quick front-runner Lisbie was released by Charlton this summer, having spent 11 years at The Valley as a professional after graduating from the youth team.

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The 28-year-old Londoner, who is a Jamaican international, played 155 first-team games for the Addicks (more than half as a substitute) as well as having loan spells with Gillingham, Reading, QPR, Norwich and Derby. He has already had a trial with Leeds this summer.

Meanwhile, Balogh is a Hungarian centre-half who has played seven times for his country. The 22-year-old plays for MTK Hungaria at home, and has also had a trial at Hull.

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Lisbie and Balogh will be put through their paces at Heybridge (kick-off 3pm), but Sheringham will sit out this opening fixture.

A blaze of publicity surrounded Sheringham's arrival at Layer Road earlier this month, and the former England and Tottenham striker was able to bond with his new team-mates during the past week's five-day training camp in Ireland.

However, the 41-year-old star will not be in action at Scraley Road, due to a minor injury.

Manager Williams explained: “Teddy (Sheringham) has a slight calf injury. It's too early for him to play.

“He wants to start playing for us as soon as possible, and he hopes to figure in some of the other pre-season games.

“Teddy was just happy to get rid of all the hype and spend a few days with the rest of the lads in Ireland.

“We have no other injuries and I'm intending to play two different teams for each half at Heybridge,” confirmed the U's boss.

Fellow new signings Clive Platt (striker from MK Dons), winger Mark Yeates (from Tottenham), midfielder Luke Guttridge (from Leyton Orient), left-back Danny Granville (from Crystal Palace) and centre-half Matthew Connolly (on loan from Arsenal) are all expected to play at least 45 minutes.

The departure of Wayne Brown last Friday week has left the U's with a lack of experience at the heart of defence.

Brown moved to Championship rivals Hull City for £450,000, after a successful three seasons at Layer Road. Other players to leave this summer were Jamie Cureton (to Norwich), Chris Iwelumo (to Charlton), Richard Garcia (to Hull) and loanee Chris Barker (to QPR).

Pat Baldwin is now the most experienced centre-half on the U's books.

Garry Richards had a loan spell at League One strugglers Brentford towards the end of last season, while Connolly has only made two first-team appearances for Arsenal (both in the League Cup) and a further seven for Bournemouth during a loan spell.

Williams said: “We will be having a look at the Hungarian triallist (Balogh) this weekend, but Wayne Brown's departure is also a chance for other players in the squad to step up and take their chance.”

Another new face on show at Scraley Road will be Micky Adams, who was appointed the U's new assistant manager in succession to Mick Harford (now at QPR) a week ago.

Meanwhile, former Colchester midfielder Robbie King will be keen to shine against his old club.

King signed for the Swifts after being released from his contract by the U's this week. The 20-year-old made just a handful of appearances for the first team, and found his opportunities reduced still further by the club's promotion to the Championship last year.

Heybridge finished 10th in the Ryman League Premier Division (seventh tier of the Football League) last season. They began their pre-season programme with a 3-2 home defeat by Charlton last weekend.

Admission this afternoon is £8 for adults and £4 for concessions.

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