U’s reject Charlton’s Okuonghae bid

COLCHESTER United have rejected a low six-figure bid from Charlton for centre-back Magnus Okuonghae, the EADT understands.

Addicks boss Chris Powell is looking to completely overhaul his squad this summer in a bid to get the club promoted back into the Championship following a two year absence and has made the Nigerian-born defender one of his main targets.

The U’s are keen to keep hold of their key man and have rejected the bid, but – with the 25-year-old entering the last year of his contract – it is expected that the south London club will come back with an improved offer.

Colchester, who were forced to cash in on defenders Marc Tierney and Paul Reid this January to prevent them leaving for nothing this summer, now have to decide just what would represent an offer that would be too good to turn down.

Okuonghae missed the entire second half of the season just gone after undergoing surgery on a blood flow problem in his foot. He is on course for a return to pre-season training though and should be fit to start the 2011/12 campaign.

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The 6ft 3in Nigerian-born defender was released by Fulham as a youngster and, after a brief spell in non-league, relaunched his career at Dagenham & Redbridge where he helped them finish eighth in League Two.

That persuaded Colchester manager Paul Lambert to bring him to Essex for a fee believed to be around �45,000 and his acquisition proved to be a bargain.

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Affectionately nicknamed ‘Beast’ by the U’s fans, the strong and athletic Okuonghae barely missed a game in his debut season in League One and ended up skippering the side for most of the campaign, also signing a new deal.

His second season at The Weston Homes Community Stadium was effected badly by injury though, the aforementioned foot problem limiting him to just 17 appearances.

– Full story in tomorrow’s EADT.

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