Victory comes at a price

COLCHESTER United's gritty victory over Port Vale, which has propelled them to the top of League One, was achieved at a cost.Midfielder Kevin Watson was stretchered off with a serious knee injury, keeper Aidan Davison hobbled off with a strained hamstring, and centre-half Liam Chilvers will travel to Germany today for a hernia operation.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United's gritty victory over Port Vale, which has propelled them to the top of League One, was achieved at a cost.

Midfielder Kevin Watson was stretchered off with a serious knee injury, keeper Aidan Davison hobbled off with a strained hamstring, and centre-half Liam Chilvers will travel to Germany today for a hernia operation.

With the exception of long-term casualties Stephen Hunt and Marino Keith, the U's have been relatively lucky with injuries for most of this season.

But the squad will now be stretched to the limit over the coming weeks, especially with the fixture congestion - they travel to Cheltenham Town for an LDV Vans Trophy southern area semi-final tomorrow, and then entertain Derby County in an FA Cup fourth round tie on Saturday.

The initial fear was that Watson had damaged knee ligaments, following the late challenge by Vale midfielder Sam Togwell. That would have probably have sidelined him for the rest of the season.

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However, physio Stuart Ayles revealed: “Kevin (Watson) was able to put some pressure on his foot after the game.”

The hope is that the 32-year-old has only badly twisted his knee, and will therefore be out of action for a matter of weeks rather than months.

Experienced keeper Davison looks set to be out of action for two or three weeks, with his hamstring injury, while centre-half Chilvers is targeting mid-February for his return.

“I will be travelling to Munich to have my operation. It's the same surgeon who treats the Chelsea and Newcastle players, like Alan Shearer,” revealed Chilvers after Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Vale.

“It is a new-fangled method, that will hopefully see me running again within three days! I intend to get back to fitness in three weeks, and we are looking at February 18 (home match against Hartlepool) for my return.”

Meanwhile, U's boss Phil Parkinson is hoping that he can retain all of his squad, through to when the transfer window closes at the end of January.

The most recent speculation has linked Greg Halford with a possible move to Norwich City, who look set to lose Dean Ashton to West Ham.

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