Ward won’t change his ways for Wednesday

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward has promised his home support that his side will look to attack Sheffield Wednesday today.

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward has promised his home support that his side will look to attack Sheffield Wednesday today.

Alan Irvine’s newly-relegated side are heavily tipped to bounce straight back into the Championship this season after strengthening their squad with a number of experienced signings over the summer.

But while new U’s boss John Ward has been restricted to free transfers, non-league signings and loan additions so far, his side go into today’s match full of confidence following a promising start to the campaign.

Colchester played some attractive football in their League One opener at Exeter last weekend, only to be denied by a late Richard Logan equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

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Undeterred, Ward stuck to his 4-3-3 formation on Tuesday night’s Carling Cup trip to League Two Hereford and he was rewarded with a fine 3-0 victory.

Sheffield Wednesday will undoubtedly provide a tougher test, however the U’s boss sees no reason to alter his approach.

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“There will be no reason to change our mentality or how we play,” said Ward. “The players are very comfortable with what they’re doing. There’s no lopsidedness, we have round pegs in round holes, the work ethic is excellent and we have ability on the back of that.

“Without being complacent, the challenge is for them to continue to do the good things. Consistency will be the key to seeing the team through to May.”

If he can, Ward is likely to stick with the same starting XI that won comfortably in midweek, however he is sweating on the fitness of two key players.

Energetic midfielder Andy Bond has made an impressive start to his U’s career following his summer switch from non-league side Barrow, while loanee Reading striker David Mooney scored twice at Hereford on his full debut. Both limped off with ankle injuries on Tuesday night though and will face late fitness tests this morning.

Goalkeeper Ben Williams and striker Steven Gillespie both injured their ankles in the latter stages of pre-season and aren’t due to return back to training until next week. That means that Mark Cousins will start a third successive game in goal, Lloyd James or Lee Beevers could come into the midfield at the expense of Bond, while striker Kayode Odejayi would be the man to replace Mooney.

Ward added: “I am sure many of our fans who haven’t seen us play yet have read plenty about our pre-season and heard from people about how we’re doing. Hopefully they’ll think ‘let’s go down and have a look’, and we don’t want to disappoint them. My team has to respond and make people come back.

“I’m told they have sold all their tickets and their fans will be vociferous. That goads our fans into making a response, which will be great.”

Sheffield Wednesday were dramatically relegated on the final day of last season following a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. Since then, Irvine has brought in a number of experienced faces over the summer, including: Nicky Weaver (Burnley), Chris Sedgwick, Neil Mellor (both Preston), Gary Teale (Derby) and Clinton Morrison (Coventry).

Ward added: “The game itself shouldn’t need any motivation for the players. They’re a big club and so we know it’s a big test.

“If you ask the general football fan to name players from both clubs, they might get more from Wednesday. However, we’re at home now and want to build on two good results away from home.”

Colchester: Cousins, Pentney; Wilson, Tierney, Reid, Okuonghae, Baldwin, White, Heath; Bond, Izzet, Perkins, James, Beevers; Henderson, Wordsworth, Vincent, Mooney, Odejayi.

Sheffield Weds: Weaver, Jameson; Purse, Buxton, Spurr, Beevers, Jones, Otsemobor, Hinds; Teale, Coke, Sedgwick, O’Connor, Potter, Palmer; Tudgay, Morrison, Mellor, Heffernan, Boden.

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