Pride, futures and holidays all at stake

TRY telling Colchester United players that there is nothing riding on today’s game at Huddersfield.

TRY telling Colchester United players that there is nothing riding on today’s game at Huddersfield.

The Essex side may no longer be able to catch The Terriers and make the play-offs, but U’s boss Aidy Boothroyd has laid down some sizeable incentives for his team to carry on fighting.

Firstly, he has made his players more than aware that their next two performances could determine whether they remain at the club in the summer.

He said: “I’m looking very closely at some of the players to decide whether they are part of Colchester’s future or not.

“This is a good time to see what people are all about. I will see which people step up and finish strongly and which people don’t.”

And if that wasn’t enough, Boothroyd says that the length of his players’ summer break is also dependent on how they finish the season.

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“I have two dates (to return to pre-season training) in my mind,” said the U’s boss.

“One if the application and energy is as good as it has been and another date if the performance and application isn’t as good.

“I’m looking for two positive results because otherwise it’s going to be a very long summer for some of the players and staff.

“We have an obligation to our profession and our fans who have travelled all over the country.”

For weeks, today’s game at The Galpharm had been shaping up to be a winner-takes-all match, with the victors likely to claim a play-off place.

However, Colchester’s dramatic end of season collapse (seven points from the last 12 matches), coupled with Huddersfield’s return to form (six wins from the last eight) means that today’s match is effectively a dead rubber.

The U’s 1-1 home draw against relegation-haunted Tranmere last weekend made it mathematically impossible for them to finish in the top six, while Huddersfield confirmed their play-off place in style with a 6-0 win at rock-bottom side Stockport County.

Colchester will be without midfielder David Prutton today as he serves a one-game ban for the red card he received last weekend. The 28-year-old – whose short-term deal runs out in the summer – booted the ball out of the ground in frustration late on to pick up a second booking.

He could well be replaced in the centre of midfield by fringe player David Fox (see facing page).

Meanwhile, Ashley Vincent is surprisingly in with a chance of playing today. The right-winger was stretchered off last weekend after injuring the same ankle which kept him out for over six months earlier in the season. The damage was not as bad as first feared though and he will undergo a fitness test this morning.

The U’s will also be without Danny Batth today after the teenage centre-back was recalled by parent club Wolves yesterday. Boothroyd recently admitted he would like to have the 19-year-old back at the Weston Homes Community Stadium next season.

Boothroyd has also confirmed that he may bring one or two of his youth team players into the first team fold for the remaining two games.

Teenage defender Tom Bender, 17, has already been given a senior contract this season, while 17-year-old striker Craig Arnott has previously travelled with the first team.

Now it looks like it will be the turn of defender Bradley Hamilton, also 17.

“I’ll probably take Bradley with us to Huddersfield for the experience,” said Boothroyd.

“He’s done very well this year.”

Squads

Huddersfield: Smithies, Eastwood; Peltier, T Clarke, P Clarke, Trotman, Pearce, N Clarke, Williams; Roberts, Pilkington, Kay, Drinkwater, Collins; Rhodes, Robinson, Simpson, Eccleston, Novak.

Colchester: Williams, Cousins; White, Tierney, Okuonghae, Reid, Queudrue, Heath, Bender, Hamilton; Henderson, Wordsworth, Fox, Izzet, Ifil; Platt, Lisbie, Odejayi, Gillespie, Arnott.

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