We’re promotion underdogs, says Ward

COLCHESTER United manager John Ward wants the Essex club to embrace the underdog tag just as it has done in the past.

It wasn’t that long ago that the U’s were always looked upon as ‘little club’, thanks to its progression from the non-league game and its modest Layer Road ground.

Two seasons in the Championship, followed by a move to the 10,000 capacity Weston Homes Community Stadium has seen expectation levels rise though.

Ward, however, believes the club is still a small one in comparision to many of their opponents in League One and that fans should once again draw upon an underdog spirit as motivation.

Speaking ahead of today’s visit of Charlton – a club who were in the Premier League less than five years ago – Ward said: “We’re up against some very strong clubs, some wealthy clubs.

“Charlton are talking about a takeover at their club and that will provide a fresh opportunity for finance.

“Brighton are looking to buy players in this January window, Huddersfield we know have already got good players, Peterborough have got players they might sell for two millon pounds, there are a lot of good teams, and I haven’t even mentioned Southampton there who will probably break their bank too.

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“For us to compete at this moment in time is terrific, and if we’re still competing at the end of January/February then we’ll have done fantastically well.”

He continued: “We talk about the shortage of cash around the game, well I don’t think there is in this league. January’s going to be quite interesting for people who are buying and we’ve got a lot to do to compete with that.”

U’s chairman and owner Robbie Cowling has backed the club with significant funding over the last few years, but there now appears to be a more long-term and pragmatic outlook at the club rather than a buy-quick-success approach.

“We’re not going to go throwing money about because we’re working on small gates compared to everybody else really,” said Ward, ahead of the January transfer window.

“I said to Joe (Dunne) the other night, imagine if we got promoted and were in the same league as Liverpool or Aston Villa!

“For us at the moment that’s a dream, but for the likes of Southampton and Huddersfield it’s a reality.

“Only three are going to go up from our division at the end of the season and there are going to be a lot of disappointed clubs who think it should have been them.

“For us to be competing amongst them is really special and long may it continue.”

He added: “Over 46 games you’d think clubs like Southampton, Charlton and Huddersfield should finish above us – but they might not, and that’s the beauty of the game.

“Let’s put ourselves up against what we think are really good players and see how we fare? Over 90 minutes we can give anyone a game and if we can do that enough times we can compete over the season.

“At the moment we’ve done that and we’ve got to try very hard over the next twenty of something games to do it again.”

– Full match preview in today’s EADT. For live match updates this afternoon, follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com.

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