Thomas: This is my big chance

COLCHESTER United's new recruit, Joel Thomas, was fully expecting his former Hamilton Academical team-mate Richard Offiong to follow him to the Community Stadium.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's new recruit, Joel Thomas, was fully expecting his former Hamilton Academical team-mate Richard Offiong to follow him to the Community Stadium.

And so was U's boss Paul Lambert!

However, United only secured one of Hamilton's two strikers, the inexperienced Thomas, while Offiong decided at the 11th hour to back-track on a transfer to Colchester.


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“I'm very disappointed that Richard (Offiong) has not come,” admitted Thomas, who made his U's debut as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 against Aston Villa on Tuesday evening.

“I thought he was going to sign as well. He should have come down, and I was waiting for him, but he never appeared!

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“We were supposed to have had our medical at the same time, but he never turned up! I tried to telephone him, but there was no answer.

“I thought we were going to sign together,” added Thomas.

Ex-Newcastle United trainee Offiong was Hamilton's joint leading scorer in the Scottish Premier League with six goals last term, including one against Celtic.

His sudden change of mind was therefore a huge let-down for Lambert.

“Our bid for him was accepted, and I was told that he was in the vicinity (for the medical), but two minutes later and he had turned back,” rued Lambert.

Thomas, meanwhile, is looking forward to making a big impression at Colchester, having signed a three-year deal for a fee believed to be �125,000.

“It's all happened so quickly. I haven't even had time to train with the rest of the team yet,” said Thomas following the Villa clash.

“I didn't know any of the names, although I did look up a few in the newspaper.

“The first thing I knew about Colchester being interested was when my agent (Sebastien Thiery) told me last week, but it feels like the right move for me.

“I have signed for three years, but I want to start well from the beginning, not just look to the future. I'm looking to this season, not beyond.

“You can end up signing a five-year contract, and yet be gone after two days!

“I see this as a big chance for me. But it's not a dream come true yet. It will only be a dream if I do well. I need to train and work hard.

“The team is the most important thing, because you need people to get the ball up to you,” added Thomas.

Caen-born Thomas has only limited experience of first team football, having initially played for the Bordeaux “B” team and then in the reserves at Kaiserslautern in Germany.

He switched to Hamilton last summer, after trials at Dundee United and Wigan Athletic, but struggled for goals. He managed just one in 28 senior outings, and never actually hit the target in the Scottish Premier League.

Thomas admitted: “We were not playing well, and we were always playing bigger clubs, like at Celtic and Rangers.

“I played in these sort of games, but we were struggling and I didn't get many chances to score. It was great to play in front of crowds of 50,000 or 60,000, but it wasn't that much fun because they were all against me and the team!” concluded Thomas.

Thomas' arrival boosted the total number of senior players to 27 at the Community Stadium. Lambert will be looking to trim down this figure over the next couple of weeks.

He has already confirmed that Johnnie Jackson has asked for a transfer, while full-backs John White and Phil Ifil are not part of his plans. Medy Elito and Jamie Guy could also be moving on.

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