‘We can ill afford any more injuries’ – Colchester United boss John McGreal

U's boss John McGreal applauds the away fans after last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Cambridge, with Macau

U's boss John McGreal applauds the away fans after last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Cambridge, with Macauley Bonne alongside him. The U's entertain Portsmouth this weekend. Picture: PAGEPIX.

Sammie Szmodics made an immediate impact, following his introduction as a second-half substitute at Cambridge United last weekend, and he looks sure to play a big role in Colchester United’s final push for promotion during the last two months of the season.

However, livewire Szmodics, who bagged an 84th minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Abbey Stadium, will be employed with caution by the U’s, due to his four-month absence following ankle surgery.

The 21-year-old is set to have a big say during the U’s run-in, and would love to start every one of the last 11 games of the campaign, but manager John McGreal can ill afford any more injury setbacks.

“All my substitutes made a big impact at Cambridge, Sammie (Szmodics), Macauley Bonne and Rekeil Pyke,” explained McGreal.

“But Sammie had only played 45 minutes for the under-23s, before his return at Cambridge. That’s the catch.

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“We have got to be careful with him. I wondered whether we put him on too early last week, but ‘no,’ I don’t think so.

“He put himself about, but we have to put the reins on him to make sure that he is available for the rest of the season.

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“We have three games over the next eight days, so we have to be careful,” added McGreal, with reference to next Tuesday evening’s home match against Mansfield, and the following Saturday’s trip to lowly Crewe.

McGreal continued: “Lewis Kinsella is in a similar position to Sammie, in that he has been out for four months. He’s been in-and-around the squad lately, and has had a few under-23 games.

“But we can ill afford to have any more injuries, with all these big games coming up.

“I certainly don’t mind having three games coming up in quick succession. That’s great, because of the way we have been playing, and you have to take your chance when opportunity knocks. It can launch a players’ careers.

“Portsmouth are a huge club. They won the FA Cup recently (2008) and have also played in Europe, and Paul Cook (manager) came in last year and has done a good job to steady the ship.

“He got them into the play-offs last year and has got his head screwed on, even though he can be very animated on the touchline.”

The U’s entertain third-placed Portsmouth tomorrow, wirh Szmodics either on the bench or in the starting line-up.

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