U's sweat on key men

COLCHESTER United are sweating on the fitness of three key players for this afternoon's visit of improving Luton Town.Karl Duguid, Pat Baldwin and Chris Iwelumo have played in every game for the U's this season, but all three picked up injuries in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Preston.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United are sweating on the fitness of three key players for this afternoon's visit of improving Luton Town.

Karl Duguid, Pat Baldwin and Chris Iwelumo have played in every game for the U's this season, but all three picked up injuries in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Preston.

Skipper Duguid is nursing an eye injury, incurred after just two minutes of the Deepdale clash, while target man Iwelumo did not appear for the second-half due to a knee problem. Defender Baldwin ended the game hobbling, but was not withdrawn because U's boss Geraint Williams had already used his three substitutes.


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The Welshman will now be hoping that all three recover in time to play against the Hatters. Today's clash is a sell-out, with the remaining tickets having been snapped up a week ago.

“Karl (Duguid) got caught in the face with the keeper's studs. He couldn't focus. His vision was impaired, but it's been improving. He has a small black eye, but he wasn't the best looking lad in the first place!” revealed Williams.

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“Chris (Iwelumo) took a slight knock on his knee. With so many games coming up, I didn't want to risk further damage, so we substituted him at half-time. “And Pat (Baldwin) is feeling a bit sore at the bottom of his back. His groin was also tight.

“We don't have the biggest squad, so hopefully these injuries will clear up quickly. We have two home games this week (Luton, and Wolves on Saturday), and as usual we will be looking to get at the opposition quickly,” added Williams.

Johnnie Jackson replaced Duguid on the left flank at Preston, while Jamie Guy partnered Jamie Cureton during Iwelumo's absence in the second-half.

Visiting Luton are back on track, after enduring a miserable run of seven straight defeats.

That lean period was prompted by a 5-0 defeat at Ipswich, which came just hours after defender Sol Davis suffered a stroke on the team-bus.

Davis has made a rapid recovery. The 27-year-old defender was expected to be sidelined for six months, but he made his comeback for the Hatters Reserves last week.

Mike Newell's men were nose-diving towards the relegation zone, until they beat promotion-chasing Preston 2-0 at Kenilworth Road to end their sequence of defeats.

In fact, the Bedfordshire club have only lost one of their last four matches. They shared a goalless draw with basement club Southend, lost 2-1 at Sunderland, and beat visiting Coventry City 3-1 last Saturday.

Croatian midfielder Ahmet Brkovic scored at both ends of the pitch against the Sky Blues, before ex-U's front runners Rowan Vine and Dean Morgan both scored after the break to lift Luton to 18th spot on 29 points.

Keeper Dean Kiely, who is on loan from Portsmouth, played a blinder against Coventry, and the U's will be looking to keep him on his toes today.

Coventry manager Micky Adams said of 36-year-old Kiely: “Their keeper got man of the match and rightly so.”

Vine is Luton's leading scorer with 11 goals, 10 of them in the league.

U's fans know all about this dangerous front-runner, because he plundered 12 goals during a long loan stint at Layer Road from Portsmouth in 2003-04.

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