The U’s striker-cupboard is suddenly very bare
U’s correspondent CARL MARSTON assesses the striker situation, or rather the lack of it, at Colchester United.
COLCHESTER United have not exactly been over-blessed with strikers in recent seasons.
Last term, U’s boss John Ward coped with just a couple of specialist strikers, in target man Kayode Odejayi, never renowned as being a very prolific marksman, and the injury-plagued Steven Gillespie.
Ward spent a good deal of time trying to find a suitable back-up front-man, during pre-season and beyond, but he could never find a permanent striker to fit the bill.
Now, though, Ward will have no choice but to sign at least a couple of new front-runners, either permanently or on loan.
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And that’s because he no longer has a specialist senior striker at the club!
Last month, Odejayi turned down the offer of a new contract, preferring instead to drop down a division to join ambitious Rotherham.
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And today his former team-mate Gillespie took the bold step to also drop into League Two, by signing a two-year deal at newly-promoted Fleetwood Town, for an undisclosed fee.
Suddenly, the cupboard is bare, in terms of target men, goal poachers or in fact any natural out-and-out strikers.
Ian Henderson can operate as a front-man, as he did at times last season, but his strength is on the wing.
Both Odejayi and Gillespie will be missed.
Odejayi may not have scored many goals – just 17 goals in 115 league appearances –but he rarely missed a game.
Meanwhile, Gillespie spent more time on the treatment table and on the bench, than on the pitch, but he had a knack of scoring goals.
The ex-Liverpool trainee has always been a natural goalscorer, and such players are very thin on the ground.
The U’s are blessed with midfielders galore, following the arrival of new signing Marcus Bean from Brentford and John-Joe O’Toole signing a new deal, but the same cannot be said for the attack.
Odejayi did not score many goals, but the fans still voted him as their player-of-the-season last term.
Gillespie, for all his injury woes, was also a big hit with supporters. You always felt the team could score, with him on the pitch.
Replacements will not be easy to find.