U’s close in on double signing

Colchester United are today finalising the permanent signings of trallist duo Lloyd James and Ben Coker.

COLCHESTER United are today finalising the permanent signings of triallist duo Lloyd James and Ben Coker.

The pair linked up with the U’s on their return to pre-season training on June 28 and have impressed in pre-season wins against Dover, Heybridge Swifts and Maldon & Tiptree.

U’s boss John Ward offered them contracts last Friday afternoon, with the final details of the transfers set to be confirmed by Wednesday at the latest.

Released by Southampton at the end of last season, former Wales Under-21 international James recently said he would ‘jump at the chance’ to join the club on a permanent basis.

And having played at step four of the non-league pyramid for Suffolk side Bury Town for the past two seasons, Coker cannot wait to make the step up to the professional game.

James, 22, has played as a deep-lying midfielder in pre-season so far and has impressed with his range of passing. He can also play at full-back.

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Set-piece specialist and penalty expert Coker, 21, has been playing on the left of midfield for the U’s, but is equally comfortable at left-back.

The duo will become the third and fourth signings of the summer for the Essex club, Ward having already signed right-sided defender/midfielder Brian Wilson, 27, on a free transfer following his release from Bristol City and central midfielder Andy Bond, 25, from Cumbrian non-league side Barrow.

The U’s have seen eight players depart the club this summer in the form of David Fox (Norwich, undisclosed), David Prutton (Swindon, free), Phil Ifil (released), Scott Vernon (released), Matt Lockwood (released), Russell Malton (released), Kevin Lisbie (loan expired) and Danny Batth (loan expired).

Meanwhile, Colchester have decided not to offer a contract to former Southend United striker James Walker after he also featured for the U’s during pre-season.

– Full story in tomorrow’s EADT.