Players to be released

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert will not be slow to release players this summer, just as he has been quick to recruit new talent during his first five months at the helm.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert will not be slow to release players this summer, just as he has been quick to recruit new talent during his first five months at the helm.

Lambert has not given up the ghost for this season, just yet, in terms of the play-offs, although he already has one eye on next term.

The rebuilding process has been well under way at the Community Stadium, ever since he arrived in the middle of October, but it will soon be time to release a few players.

Over the last few weeks, Lambert has farmed out the likes of defender Matt Heath (to Brighton), striker Jamie Guy (to Dagenham & Redbridge), Matt Lockwood (to Barnet) and front-runner Scott Vernon (to Northampton), all of them on a loan basis.

Other first team fringe players, like Medy Elito, Phil Ifil and Sunday-Akanni Wasiu, have only been used sparingly by Lambert, so it makes sense that a selection of these might be leaving the Essex club this summer.

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“We have to try to change things, so some of the lads will be leaving,” confirmed Lambert.

“A lot of the lads are under scrutiny. I haven't come here to just sit in mid-table; my ambition is the get the club out of this league.

“I have a good idea of what I want to do. Once I know what will be happening next season, in terms of what division we will be in, then I'll be letting people know. Players leaving, that will come,” added Lambert.

Most of Lambert's moves in the transfer market, whether permanent or temporary, have been good. Full-backs Alan Maybury (free agent) and Marc Tierney (from Shrewsbury) have been a revelation, while winger Simon Hackney (from Carlisle) looks to be an exciting prospect.

Experienced keeper Jimmy Walker also made a huge impact during his three-month loan stay from West Ham, although injuries curtailed the influence of loanee strikers Sam Williams and Jermaine Easter, and full-back Lee Hills.

Last weekend, both Neal Trotman and Karl Hawley caught the eye on their U's debuts, following their arrival on loan from Preston. Both will make their second appearances at Scunthorpe tomorrow.

However, one of Lambert's main priorities for this summer will be to sign a new striker - the U's have not had a regular goalscorer all season, with winger Mark Yeates continuing to lead the way with 11 goals (10 in the league).

“We need some help up front,” insisted Lambert.

“Teams like Leicester and Scunthorpe have strikers who have scored 20-odd goals, and we haven't. You don't need to be Einstein to work out that we need some help.

“There's no doubt that losing Steven Gillespie (to injury) for the majority of the season has been a big blow to this club.

“He is the sort of player who has showed that he could get 20 goals a season, because in the short amount of time that he has played, he always gets lots of chances.

“He has been one of the missing ingredients, but then there have been a lot of things that needed changing. I have had to build from the back, because we were lacking in that department.

“You need a good keeper, and defenders who are prepared to head the ball and defend for their lives. That was my first priority, when I first came here with Culve (assistant Ian Culverhouse).

“I learnt that well from playing in Germany, where the players are great at defining their jobs, whether they be a defender or defensive midfielder. Football is such a simple game, which can be made complicated by players,” added Lambert, who won the Champions League medal with Borussia Dortmund.

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