Ward: I tried to keep Prutton

DAVID Prutton returns to Colchester United tomorrow for the first time since his departure to Swindon with U’s boss John Ward admitting that he would have been perfect for his side this season.

Almost a year ago to the day, Prutton had the Weston Homes Community Stadium faithful buzzing with a dream debut strike for the U’s.

Having been recruited by Aidy Boothroyd from Leeds on loan earlier that day, the colourful ex-Southampton character arrowed in a superb long-range strike within moments of his arrival off the bench to wrap up a 2-0 Tuesday night win over MK Dons.

Boothroyd erred on the side of caution when Leeds released the midfielder soon afterwards, only signing him on a six-month deal. And that ended up working against them at the end of the season when the 29-year-old opted to join League One rivals Swindon – who had just lost in the play-off final – on a free transfer.

“I tried to keep David,” revealed Ward, who worked with Prutton as Boothroyd’s assistant last season.

“I spoke to him throughout the summer, I think he was in France at one time, in fact I tried to catch him all over Europe! He had a couple of offers, Brighton I think spoke to him as well, but he chose Swindon.”

Danny Wilson’s side have now sold both of their star strikers from last season to Championship clubs, Billy Paynter joining Leeds in the summer and Charlie Austin going to Burnley recently.

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And although they were around the play-off places after beating the U’s 2-1 at the County Ground last November they have since suffered a terrible dip in form, sliding into the relegation zone following an eight-game winless run.

Ward was at Brisbane Road on Tuesday to witness the Robins’ latest failure – a 3-0 defeat to Leyton Orient. Prutton came off the bench in that game and Ward admits he is still a big fan: “I went with Joe (Dunne, assistant manager) on Tuesday and he said to me ‘David would be a good player for us here at the minute the way we’re playing’ and I agreed.

“I am pretty sure he will start on Saturday. It will be good to see him, he’s a good professional and a good type of person.”

Prutton will be one of two players ‘that got away’ from the U’s potentially lining up for Swindon tomorrow. Ward came very close to signing towering defender Aden Flint from non-league club Alfreton Town last month, but the 21-year-old instead chose to join the Robins at the last moment.