The race to sign Williamson

COLCHESTER United have renewed their interest in Wycombe Wanderers' highly-rated defender, Mike Williamson.But the U's, backed by ambitious owner and chairman Robbie Cowling, will have to dig deep if they are to lure their target away from Adams Park.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United have renewed their interest in Wycombe Wanderers' highly-rated defender, Mike Williamson.

But the U's, backed by ambitious owner and chairman Robbie Cowling, will have to dig deep if they are to lure their target away from Adams Park.

The Essex club lodged a six-figure bid for Williamson yesterday, and they didn't have long to wait for a reply from the League Two leaders - “no way” was the answer.


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Williamson was targeted by the U's in the autumn, and now they are trying again to snap up the 25-year-old centre-half.

Yet according to sources at Wycombe, the U's bid was identical to the one they launched in November, so it seems that they will have to return with an improved offer to stand a chance of being successful.

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Manager Paul Lambert knows all about Williamson from his days at Wycombe. Lambert was the Chairboys manager for two years before his appointment to the U's hot seat, and the Scotsman was very impressed with Williamson's performances in the heart of defence, especially following his return from a year-long knee injury.

It looks likely that ex-Torquay trainee Williamson will leave Wycombe during this month's transfer window, because he has so far refused to sign a new contract. His current deal expires this summer, at which point he would be available on a free transfer.

But Colchester are not alone in trying to sign the 6ft 4ins stalwart - Championship clubs Birmingham City, Watford and Charlton have all been linked with him.

Wycombe are flying high at the top of League Two. They are eight points clear, and have only lost one of their 24 league matches. They also have the best defensive record in the division (just 14 goals conceded), so manager Peter Taylor is in no hurry to sell his best players.

Taylor insisted: “If we get an unbelievable offer for Mike (Williamson) in January we will have to think about it, but I want him to stay here and help us get promotion. And if we do get promotion it might even help to persuade Mike to stay here.

“Mike hasn't signed and I don't expect him to, that's how football is. He has decided that he wants to wait and see what happens and I can respect that. I'm sure Mike is looking at playing in the Championship and I would expect all of my players to be ambitious like that.

“I've asked him on a few occasions if he is going to sign a new contract, but I'm not going to put a gun to his head. He has got to be happy.”

Williamson bounced back from a serious knee injury while Lambert was the boss at Wycombe. He suffered cruciate ligament damage during a 3-2 defeat at Mansfield in February, 2007, and then his planned comeback was disrupted by a broken arm, sustained in training the following December.

At the time, Lambert admitted: “He (Mike) was a massive player for us and has been a big loss.”

But he returned with a bang during the final quarter of last season, and has been a rock at the back this campaign. He was given the PFA 2UP Fans' Divisional Player Award for October

Lambert has concentrated on bolstering his defence since his appointment as the new U's boss last September. His first two permanent signings, Alan Maybury (free agent) and Marc Tierney (Shrewsbury Town) are both full-backs.

And Lambert said of potential new recruits: “We are going to try and be busy in the transfer market over the next month. There are a couple of things in the pipeline at the moment. We hope to do something.”

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