“We can’t give up on the players” – Colchester United boss Tony Humes
- Credit: Su Anderson
Colchester United boss Tony Humes has admitted that their next three fixtures could decide the U’s entire season.
And by that, he was implying that any more repeats of the U’s calamitous performances in their last two games, a 6-0 thrashing at MK Dons and a 4-1 humbling at home to Rochdale, could ultimately end in relegation.
Humes’ under-performing team will remain in the League One drop zone, regardless of the result of this Saturday’s game at fellow bottom-four club Yeovil Town.
The U’s are already a daunting five points adrift of safety, on the back of five straight league defeats, with almost half of the season already gone.
They bring the curtain down on a tough 2014 with a hat-trick of games against fellow strugglers Yeovil, Gillingham and Crawley.
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So they could begin the new year by clambering out of the relegation zone.
Alternatively, they could begin 2015 marooned in the drop zone, with League Two football looming on the horizon.
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“The next three games could decide our season,” confessed Humes.
“It will give us a good pointer of where we are, or where we are going to be.
“We can’t give up on the players, but they have to show that they are willing to work harder to get out of the big hole.
“And this is a big week ahead, isn’t it?
“We’ve got a long journey to Yeovil on Friday, and we will do everything to prepare the players. But ultimately, it is up to them.”
Humes doesn’t have that many options to change his team. For last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Rochdale he made just one change to the side that beat Peterborough in the FA Cup, with Rhys Healey coming in for Gavin Massey.
The likelihood is that winger Massey will return to the starting line-up at Yeovil, after coming off the bench at half-time to score against Rochdale.
Humes could well recall Sean Clohessy at right-back, while midfielder Alex Gilbey might be back in contention after missing two games with a sore hamstring.
But otherwise, the team just about picks itself.
If results and performances do not improve, however, then Humes will be dipping into the transfer market when the window reopens in January, at least in terms of bringing in some new loan players.
“We might need to start changing it around,” admitted Humes.
“I don’t want to do that, because I want continuity, but if they (the players) don’t work hard enough, then they are not going to be in the team.
“We can only use what we’ve got at this time, and we have three huge games coming up.
“If we don’t match Yeovil’s work-rate, Gillingham’s work-rate or Crawley’s work-rate, then we are going to struggle.”
Meanwhile, Colchester United’s FA Cup third round tie at Cardiff City will be played on Friday, January 2 (kick-off 7.45pm).
The game has been brought forward from the weekend, because it is to be televised live on BBC2 Wales.