U’s boss to build side around key trio

COLCHESTER United boss Aidy Boothroyd wants to build his side around the triumvirate of Ben Williams, Magnus Okuonghae and Anthony Wordsworth.

Keeper Williams has been the U’s stand-out player in his first season at the club, Okuonghae has stepped up seamlessly from League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge to inherit the captain’s armband and play virtually every game, while youth team product Wordsworth has scored 11 goals from midfield.

Boothroyd, who experimented by playing Wordsworth as a supporting striker last weekend, admits he wants to build the spine of his side around the aforementioned trio next season.

And while there has been some worry amongst U’s fans that bigger clubs could come in and poach their star players following their own failure to achieve promotion, Boothroyd was quick to allay such fears by revealing that he has received no interest whatsoever in his best players.

However, he did refuse to go as far as issuing a hands-off warning.


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“Magnus Okuonghae, Ben Williams, Anthony Wordsworth have all had very good seasons. It’s now a case of building around them,” said the U’s boss.

“A long time ago, when I was manager of Watford, I said naively that nobody was for sale – no matter how much we were offered. Two weeks later I sold Ashley Young for �10m.

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“Everybody has a price, we are Colchester United not Manchester United and even they sold Ronaldo for 80 million.

“Does that mean that everybody is for sale here? Of course not, it’s just an issue of timing. If you can hang on to a player their value might increase from �300,000 to �3m – that’s how football works.

“Clubs are a business and at some point or another the chairman is going to say: ‘Hang on a minute, there’s not a lot left in this wallet. It’s about time for Colchester United to sustain itself.

“I’ve had no enquiries for any of my players whatsoever so far and maybe you have to say that has to be one of the very few pluses to come out of not making the play-offs.”

Meanwhile, Boothroyd revealed that striker Scott Vernon has become the latest U’s player to be informed he will be released when his contract comes to an end next month.

He said: “Scott won’t have a problem finding another club, not just because of the player he is, but also because he’s a brilliant character. I genuinely wish him well.”

Former Blackpool player Vernon, 26, started the season well, but has found himself out of favour under Boothroyd. He has spent the last three months on loan at Essex rivals Southend.

Boothroyd, who has also made the decision to release defender Matt Lockwood, will now sit down with out-of-contract pair David Prutton and Phil Ifil over the coming days to discuss their futures at the club.

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