O’Toole will be a force with the Pirates

John-Joe O'Toole

John-Joe O'Toole

John-Joe O’Toole’s three-year stay at Colchester United, so full of ups and downs, came to an end yesterday with the midfielder completing a move to Bristol Rovers.

The talented O’Toole, beset by injuries during his time with the U’s, has therefore been reunited with former Colchester manager John Ward – the Pirates boss had O’Toole on loan last term.

There is no doubt that O’Toole, on his day, is a real force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park. A powerful player, who never shrinks a challenge and is always willing to embark on exciting, forward runs, the 24-year-old was a favourite of the U’s faithful.

But he found his opportunities limited under U’s boss Joe Dunne, since the Dubliner’s elevation to the hot seat last September.

Dunne has tended to favour more cultured midfielders, with more pace and agility, such as summer signing Craig Eastmond and last season’s loan signing Billy Clifford.

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He also has the likes of Marcus Bean, Andy Bond, David Wright, Alex Gilbey and Kem Izzet to call upon in the midfield cauldron – Dunne’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation requires just two deeper midfielders, to accommodate two wingers and two central attackers.

But O’Toole, a non-nonsense, plain-speaking midfielder, will almost certainly prove a big hit at Bristol Rovers in League Two, as he did during his three-month loan stint with Ward’s men last term.

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O’Toole revealed: “There was a bit of uncertainity about where I was going to be.

“It was a massive decision. If you’re signing a three-year contract, then you’ve got to make sure it’s right for you.

“I wasn’t guaranteed first-team football at Colchester and I’ll have a better chance of that here.”

O’Toole played a big part in helping to drag Bristol Rovers away from the relegation zone, during his 18-game loan stay from the turn of the year.

Dunne explained: “I think John-Joe has made the right choice of clubs for his move. In the current market, he is in a positive position of having a choice, and I feel he’s made the right one for himself.

“His opportunities have been limited with the competition for places in central midfield,” added Dunne.

Ward was understandably delighted to snap up O’Toole, on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee – Southend United were one of a few other clubs chasing the ex-Watford man, who still had 12 months left on his current contract at Colchester.

“I’m delighted to welcome John-Joe to the club, and see all our patience pay off,” enthused Ward.

“It has been no secret that we wanted to bring JJ to the club and we have worked hard to achieve this.

“His style of play gives confidence to the people around him. He has a lot of charisma and his experience and ethos will rub off on those around him.”

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