Sam hoping for a new start

COLCHESTER United defender Sam Stockley has signed on loan for League One rivals Blackpool until the end of the season.Stockley was set to fly up to the north-west this morning to link up with his new team-mates, and he should make his Seasiders' debut against Port Vale tomorrow.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United defender Sam Stockley has signed on loan for League One rivals Blackpool until the end of the season.

Stockley was set to fly up to the north-west this morning to link up with his new team-mates, and he should make his Seasiders' debut against Port Vale tomorrow.

The 28-year-old full-back has made 171 appearances for the U's, but his chances have been limited in recent months. He will look to resurrect his career at Bloomfield Road.


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“I've had a fantastic last three-and-a-half years at Colchester, but it's been a difficult situation for me recently. The gaffer has been straight with me. He has two younger lads on less money coming through, while I'm the senior professional on good money.

“I have only happy memories of my time at Colchester, and initially I'm only going on loan at Blackpool until the end of the season. But times change, and I have to move with the times.

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“My girlfriend is from Liverpool, so it's a chance to get back up north. I need a new challenge, and I just want to play some games again. Since the turn of the year, I've only had limited chances at Colchester,” added Stockley.

The Tiverton-born defender has only started two league games in 2006, which has left him very frustrated. His last outing was the 1-0 defeat at Oldham last weekend.

Ironically, Stockley will be back at Boundary Park in the colours of Blackpool tomorrow week. In fact, he could still have a big say in the U's promotion bid this season - the Seasiders play promotion candidates Southend, Swansea, Brentford and Barnsley next month.

Stockley continued: “I could still do Colchester a favour, but first and foremost I must look after myself.

“I can't thank the fans enough for all their support. The rest of the lads and the club have been fantastic to me. I've had my best years as a footballer at Layer Road.

“I have absolutely no regrets, although it's been a testing time for me in recent months. I have been frustrated and unhappy at times, especially with having done so well in the past.

“But hopefully, Colchester can stay up in the promotion race for the rest of the season,” added Stockley.

Former Southampton trainee Stockley has played more than 400 senior games for Barnet, Oxford and Colchester.

The 28-year-old made 207 appearances for Barnet, before moving on to Oxford in a £150,000 package deal in the summer of 2001. Just over a year later and he was snapped up by former U's boss Steve Whitton. He has spent the last three-and-a-half years at Layer Road and, up until this season, was a regular in the starting line-up.

Meanwhile, the U's will bid to record their first victory in nine matches against visiting Swindon Town tomorrow.

Despite suffering seven defeats and one draw in their last eight fixtures, Phil Parkinson's men remain in the thick of the promotion race.

They currently occupy the last play-off spot, although the second automatic promotion position is not completely beyond them - second-placed Brentford, who take on promotion rivals Swansea in south Wales tonight, are only five points clear of the U's.

U's boss Parkinson will welcome back midfielder Kem Izzet after suspension. Izzet served a one-match ban in midweek, following his sending-off at Oldham last weekend.

In addition to bowing out of the FA Cup (at Chelsea) and the LDV Vans Trophy (3-1 on aggregate to Swansea on Tuesday night), the U's have only collected one point from a possible 15 in their last five league fixtures.

They will be gunning for revenge tomorrow, having suffered a 1-0 defeat at Swindon on Boxing Day.

Kevin Watson, Mark Yeates and Tony Thorpe will all be facing their former club, while ex-Colchester loanee Jamie Cureton is set to lead the Robins' front line.

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