Perkins and Henderson issued contract ultimatum

COLCHESTER United chairman Robbie Cowling has issued a contract ultimatum to influential duo David Perkins and Ian Henderson.

SIGN by the end of the week or we’ll start looking for replacements.

That’s the ultimatum Colchester United owner and chairman Robbie Cowling has issued to influential duo David Perkins and Ian Henderson as they continue to stall over offers of a new contract.

Energetic central midfielder Perkins swept the board at the club’s end-of-season awards, while versatile wideman Henderson ended the campaign as the club’s top League One goalscorer following five goals from his last six games.

Both are due to be out of contract at the Essex club next month though and could walk away on a Bosman free transfer – scooping a signing-on fee at a new club – should they wish.

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It would be a bitter pill for U’s fans to swallow should either walk away considering it was Colchester who gave former Norwich player Henderson his chance to establish himself back in English football following an ill-fated spell in Turkey, while Perkins’ career has been reinvigorated in Essex this season following previous loan spells in League Two.

“We’re still waiting to hear from them both as to what they want to do,” said Cowling, who last week revealed he would be reducing his subsidy of the playing budget from �1.4m to nothing over the next five years in an attempt to build a more stable and long-term business plan.

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“They were given their offers fairly early and there has been a small element of negotiation since then to reach what I believe are good contracts that are on the table.

“We will only pay what we can afford and won’t start offering silly money.

“I therefore strongly advise them to make their minds up this week otherwise we will have to move on.”

Manager John Ward returns from holiday this week and one of his first tasks will be to sit down with his chairman to discuss the situation.

“I’ll speak to John and see what he wants to do,” said Cowling, who has already completed the signings of defenders Tom Eastman and Michael Rose on free transfers from Ipswich and Swindon respectively this summer and exclusively told the EADT last week that he is in talks with two strikers.

“But I know that he wants to get business done sooner rather than later. Other players are becoming available now and we can’t risk missing out on them while we wait for others to make up their minds.

“It’s difficult because we don’t want to lose good players and I appreciate it’s not always easy to replace them. However, I’m confident that there are some good quality players out there at the moment and I’ve always been a big believer that every problem provides you with opportunity.”

Speaking after the season finale against Bristol Rovers a little over three weeks ago, Ward said: “I won’t put a deadline on contracts, but there is a little bit of a lesson to learn from last year in Phil Ifil who was offered a contract, sat on it for a little while and then Brian Wilson came in and I had to withdraw that offer.

“The players know that I can’t sit around waiting and if I have to move with other players then I will do.”

Since then, Steven Gillespie, John White, Andy Bond and Mark Cousins have joined Matt Heath and Carl Pentney in signing new deals.

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