U's could be without top marksmen

COLCHESTER United could be without their two leading scorers for tonight's crunch relegation battle against visiting Preston.Top marksman Kevin Lisbie is unlikely to add to his 10 goals, after limping off with a twisted ankle during the first-half of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Burnley.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United could be without their two leading scorers for tonight's crunch relegation battle against visiting Preston.

Top marksman Kevin Lisbie is unlikely to add to his 10 goals, after limping off with a twisted ankle during the first-half of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Burnley.

And winger Mark Yeates is nursing a dislocated shoulder, sustained during the previous weekend's 2-2 home draw against Sheffield United. Yeates has bagged seven goals this term.


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New signing Dean Hammond will have to wait a little longer to make his U's debut. The ex-Brighton skipper has only just returned to light training after a calf injury.

United have not won any of their last nine games at Layer Road, but they are beginning to show signs of a revival. And although they are five points adrift of fourth-from-bottom Preston, a win tonight would cut the gap to just two. The U's also have a game in hand.

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However, visiting Preston are not playing like a team dogged by fears of relegation. In fact, they have risen from the basement to out of the relegation zone following a run of five wins in seven games.

Alan Irvine's men recorded a shock 4-1 victory at Derby County in the fourth round of the FA Cup, to set up a fifth round tie at home to Portsmouth this weekend.

In the league, meanwhile, the Lilywhites have chalked up precious 1-0 victories over Scunthorpe, Watford and Coventry, as well as toppling league leaders West Brom 2-1.

But manager Irvine is taking nothing for granted. He said: “There's a long way to go yet. We probably need another seven wins to be able to relax.”

Their chief problem has been scoring goals. Just 30 netted from 31 league games is a poor return - only Scunthorpe and Leicester (both 29) have scored fewer goals in the Championship.

No player has scored more than five goals. Both winger Simon Whaley and ex-Carlisle striker Karl Hawley have bagged five. This evening also heralds the return of former Colchester centre-half Liam Chilvers, who played 139 senior games for the U's before his move to Preston during the summer of 2006.

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