U's boost defence with more signings

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams turned his attention to the defence yesterday, boosting his summer signings to six, all within the last few days.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams turned his attention to the defence yesterday, boosting his summer signings to six, all within the last few days.

Having bolstered the strike-force and midfield last week, Williams strengthened his back-line with the arrival of experienced left-back Danny Granville from Crystal Palace, and teenage centre-half Matthew Connolly on a season-long loan from Arsenal.

Both joined in the U's first day of pre-season training at Essex University yesterday, along with fellow new signings Clive Platt (striker from MK Dons), winger Mark Yeates (from Tottenham) and midfielder Luke Guttridge (from Leyton Orient).

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Star signing Teddy Sheringham was a notable absentee, although the 41-year-old will be teaming up with the U's squad for next week's training camp in Limerick.

Manager Williams said last night: “Teddy has a long-standing prior engagement, arranged before he signed, but he will be spending the five days with us in Ireland.”

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New recruit Granville will be a straight replacement for Chris Barker, who joined QPR in June after a successful year-long loan stay from Cardiff last term.

Barker made a big impact as the U's finished 10th in the Championship, and Granville will be looking to follow suit over the next few months.

The 32-year-old has signed on a free transfer, after a frustrating last two years at Crystal Palace (just 16 games), although he made 138 appearances in all for the Eagles.

“Danny (Granville) will add balance to the squad, and ensure that experience and youth are battling with each other for places all over the pitch,” said Williams.

“He has played at the highest level and has a wealth of experience. He has a lovely left foot and is tall in stature.”

Granville will be familiar to Colchester supporters from his early days at East Anglian rivals Cambridge United. The Islington-born left-back made 114 appearances for his first club Cambridge, playing against the U's in the old Division Three.

He hit the big-time with a £300,000 move to Chelsea in 1997, but played just 18 games in the Premiership for the Blues before switching to Leeds United in a £1.6m deal just over a year later.

Granville commanded another big-money move in the summer of 1999, this time to Manchester City for a £1m fee. He also had a brief loan stint at Norwich before signing for Palace just after Christmas, 2001, for £500,000.

The 19-year-old Connolly has been a regular in the Arsenal Reserves for the last two years.

Williams continued: “We have watched a lot of Premier League Reserve matches in the south, and have seen Matthew (Connolly) in action on a number of occasions. He is very comfortable on the ball, and it's time for him to play some regular first-team football.”

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