U’s players delighted to have O’Toole back

JOHN-JOE O’Toole is back – and his Colchester United team mates are delighted.

The 22-year-old made a surprise return to first team action at Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night when he was introduced off the bench in the 78th minute.

And despite having played just 55 minutes of reserve team football following over 10 months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury, the tenacious midfielder was soon flying into some trademark tackles to help the U’s see out a 1-0 win.

Having lost eight of their previous 10 away games, the victory gives Colchester renewed hopes of a top six finish and lifts morale ahead of Saturday’s visit of closely-placed Southampton.

However, it was the return of O’Toole which had the U’s players the most excited.

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“Highlight of the game in my eyes was the return of John-Joe O’Toole,” said midfielder Ian Henderson on social networking site Twitter.

“Nice to have John-Joe back!!!” and “Great to see John-Joe back on the pitch!!” wrote Anthony Wordsworth and Tom Bender respectively.

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With right-back Brian Wilson also close to a return following a lengthy absence with an ankle injury, there is a great mood around The Weston Homes Community Stadium going into the final 13 games of the season.

“For John-Joe it’s been a long, long road,” said manager John Ward, after masterminding victory over his former club on Tuesday night – the U’s first ever victory at Bristol Rovers in their history.

“All the boys are jumping up for him, a little more than the result in a way because they welcome a good player back.

“He had an hour last week (in a reserve team game against San Jose Earthquakes) and really we only brought him down (to the south west) to train rather than play.

“However, I just watched him train over the three or four days we had in Exeter and I thought 20 minutes from him tonight would be appropriate and it worked out that way.

“It wasn’t a nice thing for me to do (to put him on), but we needed his power.”

– Are you glad to see O’Toole back in the blue and white of Colchester? Can the U’s still get in the play-offs? Let us know by signing up to www.greenun24.co.uk and commenting on this story.

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