Still plenty of positives for Colchester

SINCE winning promotion to the Championship, a little over a year ago Colchester United have lost the bulk of their squad to “bigger” clubs.That is the stark reality of life in the second tier of the Football League for an unfashionable club like the U's, who are trying to compete on average gates of just over 5,000.

By Carl Marston

SINCE winning promotion to the Championship, a little over a year ago Colchester United have lost the bulk of their squad to “bigger” clubs.

That is the stark reality of life in the second tier of the Football League for an unfashionable club like the U's, who are trying to compete on average gates of just over 5,000.

Skipper Karl Duguid, the midfield pairing of Kevin Watson and Kem Izzet, and the central defensive pairing of Wayne Brown and Pat Baldwin, are now in a minority of established U's outfield players who have stayed at Layer Road.


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The loss of strikers Chris Iwelumo (to Charlton) and Jamie Cureton (to Norwich) have been body blows this summer, and Richard Garcia also appears to have played his last game for the U's. His contract expired over the weekend.

At the turn of the year, right-back Greg Halford moved to Reading for a club record £2.5m - he is now at Sunderland - and looking back to last summer, talented defender Liam Chilvers departed for Preston and midfielder Neil Danns joined Birmingham.

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Manager Geraint Williams now faces a rebuilding exercise.

The loss of Danns and Chilvers were compensated for last year by the recruitment of Johnnie Jackson, and the return to form of Baldwin.

This time, though, Williams needs to find at least two new strikers, a left-back and some cover across the midfield. It promises to be a busy month, especially as pre-season training resumes next week.

At present, MK Dons striker Clive Platt is considering a move to Layer Road, in a £300,000 deal, although QPR target man Ray Jones appears to be out of reach.

But it's not all doom and gloom. The U's will be looking forward to their second season in the Championship, and the following campaign they should begin life in their new Community Stadium.

Building work on the 10,000 all-seater stadium at Cuckoo Farm will begin soon, after detailed planning permission was granted last week. The project will cost £14m.

Furthermore, star players may have gone, but United have usually managed to find replacements. The future remains bright.

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