U's chase giant defender

COLCHESTER United manager Paul Lambert has turned to his native Scotland in his quest to bolster his defence, and he's chasing a giant!

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United manager Paul Lambert has turned to his native Scotland in his quest to bolster his defence, and he's chasing a giant!

The U's had a six-figure fee for centre-half Mike Williamson turned down by Wycombe Wanderers on Monday afternoon, and now they are targeting Hibernian's 6ft 7ins defender Rob Jones.

Owner and chairman Robbie Cowling has certainly not been afraid to splash the cash, since he took over the reins from Peter Heard. And it is believed that yesterday's bid for Jones is also a six-figure offer.

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The likes of Chris Coyne (from Luton), Dean Hammond (Brighton), Phil Ifil (Tottenham), David Perkins (Rochdale), Steven Gillespie (Cheltenham) and Marc Tierney (Shrewsbury) have all been snapped up for six-figure fees during the last year.

The latest target, tall Englishman Jones, has been playing his football in the Scottish Premier League since the summer of 2006, and has rattled up more than 100 appearances for Edinburgh-based Hibs.

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The 29-year-old is a late starter to the professional game, having played in non-league while working as a PE teacher. Born at Stockton-on-Tees, he played at nearby Gateshead until switching to Stockport County for the sum of just �5,000 in 2003.

Jones made 19 appearances for County, and also had a short loan stint at Macclesfield, before joining Grimsby on a free transfer during the summer of 2004.

The highly-rated centre-half played 68 senior games for the Mariners, and scored five goals. His impressive form, which included a terrific display in the League Cup win over Tottenham (1-0), eventually earned him a move north of the border to Hibs before the start of the 2006-07 campaign. Tony Mowbray was the manager at the time.

Jones has been a big hit at Easter Road, and was installed as captain two years ago. He responded by leading Hibs to their first silverware for 16 years when he scored the first goal in their 5-1 victory over Kilmarnock in the 2007 Scottish League Cup Final. He scored with one of his trademark headers from a corner.

This season, Jones has scored a couple of goals, again headers from corners. In all, he has netted 10 goals in 103 outings for Hibs.

His last appearance was the 4-2 home defeat by Kilmarnock on December 28, when he limped off with a hamstring problem after just 29 minutes. This injury kept him out of the Edinburgh derby at home to Hearts last Saturday.

So has Jones played his last game for Hibs? United will be trying to land him during this month's transfer window.

Wycombe were quick to turn down the U's offer for Williamson, but Lambert will be hoping that Hibs are more forthcoming with Jones' possible transfer to the Community Stadium.

Meanwhile, the U's Essex Senior Cup quarter-final tie at home to Hornchurch, which was postponed last night due to a frozen pitch, has been rearranged for Wednesday, January 14.

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