Yeates will be missed - Duguid

COLCHESTER United skipper Karl Duguid admits that the U's will miss the “flair” of Mark Yeates during the last 14 games of the season.But Duguid, who has the job of filling the role left by the crocked Yeates, believes that United have enough weaponry to protect their Championship status even without their star player.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United skipper Karl Duguid admits that the U's will miss the “flair” of Mark Yeates during the last 14 games of the season.

But Duguid, who has the job of filling the role left by the crocked Yeates, believes that United have enough weaponry to protect their Championship status even without their star player.

The U's will climb out of the bottom three this afternoon, if they can inflict a rare defeat on promotion-chasing Bristol City at Layer Road, and Preston fail to win at Watford.


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Yeates has been sidelined for the season, after undergoing surgery on his dislocated shoulder on Thursday. However, the U's have only lost one of their last four matches since Yeates picked up the injury during the 2-2 home draw against Sheffield United.

“There's no doubt it's a blow to lose Mark (Yeates) for the rest of the season. He's our little flair player, and he did so well for us at the start of the season,” insisted Duguid.

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“He is a player with all the tricks. There are times in a game when we might need those tricks, and we won't have that now.

“But we will have to deal with it. I think we've done well in the last four or five games, and I've enjoyed playing further up the pitch.

“I haven't got the tricks that Mark has got, but I think that I can help the team in other ways. I should give balance to the team, especially with Macca (Kevin McLeod) playing down the other wing. That should give us a bit of shape, especially as I like to tuck in from the right,” added Duguid.

U's stalwart Duguid, who is the club's longest-serving player, started this season at full-back, with Yeates and McLeod impressing so much down either flank.

The 29-year-old lost his place in the team following the 2-0 home defeat by Blackpool on December 29, and there was speculation that he could be on his way out of Layer Road during the January transfer window.

However, Duguid has since revealed that he was not approached by another club, and that he is happy to stay with the U's - he made his senior debut way back in December, 1995.

Now Duguid is relishing his new partnership with Phil Ifil down the right-flank. Ex-Tottenham 21-year-old Ifil, who signed for the U's last month, has gone from strength to strength over the last six appearances in his right-back slot.

Duguid continued: “I've been very impressed with Phil (Ifil). I've enjoyed linking up with him down the right flank, and he's been getting in a lot of crosses.

“He's a good young lad, and he's improving with every game.”

U's manager Geraint Williams could well be forced into a change this afternoon, following last weekend's deserved 1-1 draw at play-off candidates Hull City.

Centre-half Adam Virgo limped off with an ankle injury at half-time, and only returned to training on Thursday. The Celtic loanee is therefore considered doubtful, although his replacement Danny Granville produced a solid second-half display alongside Chris Coyne in the heart of defence.

Fellow defenders Bela Balogh (sore ankle) and Pat Baldwin (knee problem) remain on the sidelines, as does striker Jamie Guy. Both Guy and Baldwin have been recuperating at Lilleshall this week.

Leading scorer Kevin Lisbie missed the trip to Hull with an ankle injury, and he too only resumed training on Thursday. Clive Platt and Scott Vernon are therefore set to retain their places up front.

New signing Dean Hammond is champing at the bit to play. The ex-Brighton skipper is still waiting to make his U's debut, following his move from the Withdean Stadium on transfer deadline day at the end of last month.

Midfielder Hammond completed a suspension and has since been dogged by a calf injury, although he is now fit and raring to go. He should make the 16-man squad today.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Ifil, Coyne, Granville, White, Duguid, Izzet, Jackson, McLeod, Platt, Vernon, Hammond, Sheringham, Watson, Guttridge, Lisbie, Virgo, Cousins.

BRISTOL CITY: Basso, Orr, McCombe, Fontaine, McAllister, Sproule, Johnson, Elliott, Carle, McIndoe, Adebola, Trundle, Vasko, Byfield, Skuse, Carey, Wilson Weale.

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