U's prepared to smash transfer record

COLCHESTER United would be prepared to smash their club record transfer fee to lure striker Steve Gillespie away from Cheltenham Town.The U's are reported to have had a £400,000 bid for want-away front-runner Gillespie rejected by the Whaddon Road club.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United would be prepared to smash their club record transfer fee to lure striker Steve Gillespie away from Cheltenham Town.

The U's are reported to have had a £400,000 bid for want-away front-runner Gillespie rejected by the Whaddon Road club.

Ex-Liverpool trainee Gillespie, left, has reacted by slapping in a written transfer request. The 24-year-old is keen to move elsewhere, so the U's could still land their target.


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But they will have to dig deep into their pockets, because Cheltenham chairman Paul Baker is not going to let Gillespie leave without receiving a big fee.

Baker revealed: “Steven (Gillespie) has to accept that we have to do what is right for the club.

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“We will see if this triggers interest from other clubs, and see if it generates increased offers.”

It is likely that Colchester will have to increase their £400,000 bid, if they are to be successful, judging by Baker's words of caution.

The Robins chairman added: “We are mindful that we have seen strikers like Liam Dickinson go to Derby for £750,000, and Martin Paterson to Burnley for £1.2 million, while Peterborough want £3m for Aaron McLean.

“We will not release Steven until the price is right, or we have earmarked an adequate replacement.”

Liverpool-born Gillespie left Anfield, following his apprenticeship, to join Bristol City during the summer of 2004.

He only started four league games for City, and eventually signed for Cheltenham at the beginning of 2006, following a couple of successful loan stints the previous year.

An injury-ravaged 2006-07 campaign only saw Gillespie start 13 games, but he still managed five goals, including a vital brace in the 4-2 win over Rotherham that ensured League One survival.

And Gillespie was again a prime reason why Cheltenham avoided relegation last term - he was the runaway leading scorer with 16 goals.

In fact, he scored nine more goals than any other player at the club.

Earlier in the week, Gillespie had told his local newspaper: “The interest has been flattering and a sign that I have been doing something right.

“It's all very exciting because, like any other player, I want to play at the highest level possible.”

Gillespie still has two years remaining on his contract with the Robins.

The U's paid a club record £350,000 for Chris Coyne from Luton in January, but they will have to eclipse that landmark if they want to snap up Gillespie.

The U's first choice strike-force of Kevin Lisbie and Clive Platt are both happy to remain at the club, although it is still possible that they could be tempted elsewhere. Scott Vernon is also hoping to force his way into the starting line-up.

Back-up striker Jamie Guy, meanwhile, looks certain to leave after admitting that he was looking for a “fresh start” following two court appearances in one day on Thursday.

Guy was fined a total of £750 for drink-driving and public order offences, and banned from the road for 12 months.

He said: “I'm upset by it - it won't be happening again. The club haven't really spoken about it. I don't really see myself at the club after all this. I'm looking to get away and get a fresh start.”

If the U's do land Gillespie, then they will have a player who shares something in common with both Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney.

During his teenage years, Gillespie broke Fowler's goal-scoring record for Liverpool Schools, a record that was later beaten by Rooney.

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