U's boss hails midfield maestro

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams has paid tribute to his midfield maestro Kevin Watson, who will celebrate his 100th league appearance for the U's tonight.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Geraint Williams has paid tribute to his midfield maestro Kevin Watson, who will celebrate his 100th league appearance for the U's tonight.

The U's entertain struggling Sheffield Wednesday, hoping to record a fourth home win on the trot, and Watson will once again be pulling the strings in the centre of the park.

The 32-year-old has been ever-present this term. In fact, he has only missed a handful of games since former U's boss Phil Parkinson signed his old Reading team-mate in the summer of 2004.

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Watson started 44 of 46 league games in his first season at Layer Road, and he again made 44 appearances in the Essex club's successful promotion campaign. He will therefore reach his century landmark tonight.

“It will be a great milestone for Kevin (Watson) to reach,” enthused manager Williams last night.

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“It is testimony to his terrific consistency that Kevin is already about to make his 100th league appearance for the club. He is a very fit lad.

“Kevin is a vital part of the team. We pride ourselves on our passing, and Kevin's main strength is his passing,” added Williams.

Former Tottenham trainee Watson has set up countless goals, from his accurate corners and teasing free-kicks, although he has only scored twice in his 99 league appearances.

Likewise, fellow central midfielder Kem Izzet is also short of goals at the moment.

However, the 26-year-old is brimming with confidence, despite his lack of goals - his last goal was two-and-a-half years ago. He produced a man-of-the-match performance at Wolves.

Williams continued: “Kem (Izzet) has been champing at the bit to play again ever since he got over his injury problems (long-term ankle injury)

“He was unlucky to be behind Neil Danns last season, with Neil scoring all those goals, but he has really blossomed this season. Perhaps that's due to a little more time on the ball, that you tend to enjoy in this division.

“Kem is always a bundle of energy and gives 100% but he's also having more of an effect on the ball, and he's knocking on the door to score a goal.

“He was unlucky not to score at Wolves, when the keeper (Matt Murray) tipped his shot onto the post,” added Williams, with reference to Izzet's 78th-minute effort.

The U's 1-0 defeat at Molineux was their first reverse in seven games, a run that earned Williams the manager-of-the-month award for September.

At home, United have beaten Derby County, QPR and Ipswich in their last three Layer Road tussles.

They will be hoping to continue the sequence against Sheffield Wednesday, who won only their second game of the season with a 2-1 success over Barnsley on Saturday.

“Nine points out of nine at home has done wonders for our league position,” admitted Williams.

“They are all big games, but Sheffield Wednesday is one of the games that we will be expected to get something out of, even though several of their injured players are returning to fitness again.

“Defensively, they have only conceded four goals away from home, and scored three, so it will probably be another tight game. It's again one of those where scoring the first goal could be vital.

“We have tended to start well at home, and we want to do that again.

“The atmosphere at Layer Road has been great in recent matches,” added Williams.

The U's boss has selected the same 10 outfield players for the last seven matches - the one change to the team was at home to QPR, when Dean Gerken replaced an injured Aidan Davison in goal.

The likes of midfielder Johnnie Jackson and left-winger Kevin McLeod are desperate for a start, after both made substitute appearances at Wolves, although Williams might again stick with the same formula.

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