Young reserves enthuse Ward

IF you’re good enough, you’re old enough. That is the message from Colchester United manager John Ward after the club fielded one its youngest ever reserve sides on Tuesday night.

Even in normal circumstances it would have been no disgrace for the U’s to lose 1-0 against Watford at Boreham Wood, the Championship club on course to win the Combination East Reserve League for the second year running.

But the fact that 13 of the 16-man Colchester squad were teenagers meant it was very much a positive evening’s work as the on-looking first team boss John Ward and his assistant Joe Dunne went away fully enthused about the future.

Mark Cousins, Lee Beevers and Conor Powell were the only three professionals in the squad.

Defender Bradley Hamilton, midfielder Jordan Sanderson and striker Craig Arnott were the next most senior players in the team – the second year Academy trio all set to follow in the footsteps of Tom Bender and sign professional terms this summer.

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Tottenham trialists Zaine Francis Angol, 18, and Olumide Durojaiye, 17 were given a second game to impress following their recent outing against Southend.

Starting alongside them were first year Academy players Richard Lowry, Mason Stewart and Freddie Ladapo, while Ryan Melaugh and Gus Mafuta both came off the bench – the former the youngest of all the club’s second year Academy players and the latter still an Under-16 player.

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First year Academy players Richard Robins, Matthew Redgrave and Ross Gilfedder made up the rest of the bench.

“The game was a really good education for some of our youngsters,” said Ward.

“I wanted to expose them to a higher level of football and they certainly responded to it really well. I came away quite pleased with what I’d seen.”

Jonathan Birbeck (Leeds) and Matthew Reece (Fulham) did not feature on Tuesday after their appearances on trial against Southend.

And asked whether he would be looking at the Spurs duo of Angol and Durojaiye again, Ward said: “This game was certainly more of a test for them. I’ll have to sit down with (Devleopment Coach) Richard Hall and see what we think.”

Colchester – who are fourth in their seven-team reserve league – have one second string fixture left to play, a trip to Luton on April 13. The club are however looking to organise further matches in the hope that they can look at some more players soon to be released by Premier League clubs.

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