The big interview: Colchester United’s Sammie Szmodics
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Fit-again Sammie Szmodics is looking forward to playing a big role in Colchester United’s late dash for the League Two play-offs.
Dogged by ankle problems, on-and-off, for more than a year, attacking midfielder Szmodics is now back to fitness and has lost no time in getting amongst the goals.
The 21-year-old followed up his late equaliser as a super-sub, in last Saturday week’s 1-1 draw at East Anglian rivals Cambridge United, by tucking home the U’s second in Tuesday night’s 2-0 home win over Mansfield Town.
Now Szmodics will be hoping to make it a quickfire hat-trick of goals, at lowly Crewe Alexandra tomorrow afternoon.
“I feel all right, and I feel good to be out there again,” enthused Szmodics, before yesterday afternoon’s training session at a sun-kissed Florence Park, Tiptree.
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Szmodics continued: “I had only really only played 45 minutes for the reserves, and 45 minutes against Portsmouth (4-0 home defeat), before the Mansfield game.
“I think the plan wasn’t for me to start (against Mansfield), obviously because I’ve only just come back, but then there was an injury to Garvs (Owen Garvan).
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“So I got the call on Monday to say that I was starting, and that I should get through as much as I could, and I ended up getting pretty much through the whole game.
“It surprised me a little, because against Portsmouth by half-time I was absolutely shattered. I don’t think I could have played anymore of that game, so the aim was for me to get through another 45 minutes.
“But at half-time, I spoke to the fitness coach (Stefano Russo) and he asked me how I was feeling – I felt fine!.
“Perhaps scoring a goal helped! And also the team attacking more helped, rather than defending, so I felt all right.
“It changed a bit in the second half. We were on the back foot and the game didn’t really suit me, because it was just long ball, but I was happy to get through about 80 minutes and hopefully I an now push on into Saturday,” added Szmodics.
Colchester-born Szmodics has undergone two operations during the last year, on both occasions having surgery on his ankle, in March, 2016, and again last January.
His long-awaited return to first-team action, after a four-month absence, was as a 76th minute substitute at Cambridge, where he made an immediate impact by sweeping home Brennan Dickenson’s cross for an 84th minute equaliser.
A first start, since November 5 (2-1 home defeat to Chesterfield) did not really go according to plan, with Portsmouth powering to a 4-0 win and an exhausted Szmodics being replaced at half-time, but he bounced back in style against Mansfield.
He tucked home another delivery from Dickenson, the scorer of the U’s opening goal, to lift the Essex club up to ninth in the table, just two places and three points off the play-off zone, and stayed on the pitch for 81 minutes, until giving way to substitute Macauley Bonne.
Szmodics looks a good bet to retain his starting place, away at Crewe tomorrow, hoping to end the U’s lean spell on the road.
In fact, John McGreal’s men have not won on their travels in 2017, drawing three and losing three of their six away fixtures since triumphing 4-2 at Stevenage on New Year’s Eve.
A haul of just three points from a possible 18 is hardly promotion form, but the U’s terrific record at home, winning eight of their last 10 games at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, is keeping them in play-off contention.
“Tuesday night was a big game, because both clubs were up there,” explained Szmodics.
“But Crewe need the points just as much as us, even more than we do, because they need the points to stay up, and we need the points to go up.
“It will be a good game and we are confident of getting the three points.
“We’ve got nine games left, and we are looking to win on Saturday, even though we know that our away form has not been as good as our home form.
“There’ no reason why we can’t go to Crewe, after our battling performance on Tuesday night, and get the win.
“We’ve got a lot of home games to come. I know they are against the top teams, but we are confident that we can win all of them.”
While the U’s last four away games of the season are all against teams in the lower half of the table – Crewe, Notts County, Morecambe and Leyton Orient – four of the U’s last five games are against top-six opposition.