U's need new skipper for FA Cup tie

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert will have to decide on a new skipper to lead his side into tomorrow's FA Cup first round tie at home to Leyton Orient.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert will have to decide on a new skipper to lead his side into tomorrow's FA Cup first round tie at home to Leyton Orient.

Dean Hammond, who has relished the role since Lambert's arrival at the club a month ago, will serve a one-match suspension for his accumulation of five bookings, all of them incurred over the last six weeks.

The ex-Brighton midfielder has been in impressive form during the U's recent revival under Lambert. But his enforced absence will require a new captain against the O's - club captain Chris Coyne is also likely to miss out with a calf strain.

“Dean Hammond has been tremendous for us, and it's a big blow that he is suspended for this weekend,” admitted Lambert.

“I've not thought about who will take over the captaincy on Saturday, but it's not a problem.”

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The likelihood is that Johnnie Jackson, who celebrated his 100th league game for the U's with a goal in last weekend's 3-3 draw at Southend United, will get the nod.

However, United certainly have no shortage of leaders in their team - midfielder Kem Izzet, who is the Essex club's longest serving player, is another candidate, as is centre-half Pat Baldwin.

Lambert also revealed that he is on the look-out for a couple more loan players, following on from Sam Williams' three-month move from Aston Villa at the start of this week.

Loanee striker Williams marked his debut with the only goal of the game as the U's clinched a 1-0 win at Bournemouth on Tuesday night, which propelled them into the southern area semi-finals of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The Welshman is eligible to play in the FA Cup, and so should start against the O's.

Lambert explained: “I think that there are one or two positions that still need strengthening, especially as it's a long, long season.

“The squad is certainly not big enough for all the games that we have to play. The lads could do with a bit of help, and I'll be making more enquiries about bringing one or two others in. Whether we get them is another matter.

“We need cover for the lads who are performing. The bench has got to be strong as well, to keep pushing the others who are playing. And the chairman (Robbie Cowling) is ambitious.

“Sam Williams did great for us at Bournemouth. He didn't know any of the lads, not even their names! He isn't that experienced, but he will bring to the team a lot of hunger and enthusiasm.

“I have a good relationship with Martin O'Neill (Aston Villa manager), and it might well be that we can get other players in the future. If the gaffer (O'Neill) lets us do it, then it would be great. He's always helped me whenever I've asked for it,” added Lambert.

The Scotsman confirmed that Clive Platt should be fit to return against Leyton Orient, after missing the Bournemouth trip with a dead leg. However, the trio of Coyne, Paul Reid (foot) and Steven Gillespie (hamstring) are all doubtful.

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