U's make record bid for Ephraim

COLCHESTER United are prepared to smash the club's record transfer fee to lure Hogan Ephraim to Layer Road on a permanent deal.But the U's have missed out on signing the talented West Ham 19-year-old on an initial loan spell.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United are prepared to smash the club's record transfer fee to lure Hogan Ephraim to Layer Road on a permanent deal.

But the U's have missed out on signing the talented West Ham 19-year-old on an initial loan spell. The transfer window for emergency loans ended at 5pm yesterday.

The England under-19 international made a big impression during a six-month loan spell with the U's last season, operating either as a winger or striker.


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U's boss Geraint Williams tried to sign Ephraim again for the start of this term, only for the West Ham star to join Championship rivals QPR on loan instead.

But now the Essex club are reported to have lodged a bid to snap up Ephraim when the transfer window re-opens on January 1.

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The figure is believed to be in the region of £500,000, which would eclipse the club record £300,000 splashed out on MK Dons target man Clive Platt in the summer.

Williams said: “We did try and sign Hogan (Ephraim) on loan during the day, with a view to a permanent deal, but obviously that has not happened.

“There has been a bid, that's true. If West Ham are interested in selling, then we would be interested in buying. We have spoken to him, but there are also another couple of clubs interested, so it is down to Hogan where his future lies.

“If it's a player who will improve the club - and Hogan would do that - then it will take a lot of money, but we are prepared to do that.

“However, nothing has happened as yet, and the transfer deadline for loans has now closed, so I'm concentrating on the players that we have at the club,” added Williams.

Meanwhile, the U's squad will be boosted by the return of Teddy Sheringham for tomorrow's home game against Crystal Palace.

Former England striker Sheringham has not played for a month, due to his sending-off for violent conduct during the closing minutes of the 1-0 defeat at Coventry City on October 27.

The 41-year-old served a three-match suspension, which ended with the U's battling 2-2 draw at league leaders Watford a fortnight ago. He could well be on the bench against Palace.

It's already been a big week for Sheringham, because he was at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to receive an MBE off the Prince of Wales.

Several of the U's first-team squad enjoyed a run-out for the Reserves in the 3-1 home defeat by Southend on Tuesday, including Adam Virgo, Luke Guttridge, George Elokobi and Kevin McLeod. Striker Jamie Guy also made a comeback following his hamstring injury.

John White also played for the Reserves against the Shrimpers, although he has since signed on a month's loan at Blue Square Premier high-flyers Stevenage Borough.

Right-back White has only started three games this season, all within the first three weeks, and has struggled to even make the 16-man squad over the last couple of months.

The 21-year-old is hoping to get some regular first-team action at Stevenage, beginning with a home match against lowly Altrincham on Monday night. Ex-U's full-back Lawrie Wilson, who never made an appearance for the Essex club, is on the books of Stevenage.

The Hertfordshire club recently appointed Peter Taylor as their new manager, following the departure of Mark Stimson to Gillingham.

Williams confirmed: “It's a good opportunity for John (White) to play some games and keep up his match fitness. We have cover in his position, but it's only a temporary move.”

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