Busy summer for U's

Thursday 31st May 2012 11:32

Ward: already on the phone doing deals?

Ward: already on the phone doing deals?

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Colchester FanZoner Daniel Jolly believes John Ward has plenty of work to do to strengthen the squad.

Colchester in need of another striker

With just 79 days to go until the beginning of the new Football League season, the squads for next season are starting to take shape.

The U's have already allowed two players to leave, with Martin Rowlands and Kayode Odejayi departing, and Ashley Vincent looks set to join the pair in departing for pastures new.

Vincent's departure is especially disappointing for fans as they never really saw the best of the former Cheltenham winger, as he struggled with injuries during his time in Essex. He totalled 71 league games over the last three years with Colchester but his future looks set to lie away from the club.

Despite being offered a new deal to stay, Odejayi chose to become part of the Steve Evans era at Rotherham. The 30-year-old initially joined the U's on loan in September 2009, after the arrival of Aidy Boothroyd.

His stay proved to be a success, with seven goals in 15 appearances during the short-term spell, and this led to his stay becoming permanent in January 2010. After joining from Barnsley, the powerful striker scored 12 more times in 64 games, and his presence will certainly be missed.

It may seem like a case of déjà vu for U's fans, as they are left with just one senior striker in the first-team squad, the injury-plagued Steven Gillespie. Both Vincent and Odejayi cited their families in their reasoning to search for new clubs and Chairman Robbie Cowling has admitted that he won't stand in the way of any players who want to leave.

The Colchester squad for the 2012/13 campaign is likely to have a familiar feel to it, and here is a look at who is currently at the club and who could potentially be added.

Goalkeepers: After signing a two-year contract last summer, the future of perennial back-up keeper Mark Cousins looks secure but whether his colleagues will follow suit is not so clear-cut. First-choice stopper Ben Williams and youngster Carl Pentney have both been offered new deals by John Ward.

Potential arrivals: If Williams does decide to depart then a number of experienced out-of-contract keepers are likely to appeal to U's supporters, including Stuart Nelson and Chris Weale. Younger prospects like Rene Gilmartin and Josh Lilis could also prove to be good additions to the ranks.

Defenders: The future of Magnus Okuonghae is still undecided, with the former Dagenham defender yet to respond to a contract offer made by the club but Matt Heath, Ben Coker and Brian Wilson have all agreed extensions to their previous deals.

Potential arrivals: The chances of Okuonghae staying at the club look very slim, which would leave the squad short of experienced central defenders. If he does leave then the likes of Zak Whitbread and Sam Sodje could replace him.

I also feel that more strength and depth is needed in both of the full-back spots, with Eddie Nolan and James McEveley both appealing.

Midfielders: On the face of things this is an area where no strengthening is needed but John-Joe O'Toole, Lloyd James and skipper Kem Izzet have yet to agree new deals and there is a distinct lack of wide talent within the ranks.

Potential arrivals: Pacey winger Lloyd Sam would be a good like-for-like replacement for the departing Ashley Vincent and the experienced Lee Cook could also be worth a shot. If departures do reduce the central midfield ranks then Ward needs to do some work to find strong alternatives in the loan market.

Strikers: Once again, Steven Gillespie is the only senior striker left at the club but he is joined by exciting youngster Freddie Ladapo, so additions definitely need to be made in this department.

Potential arrivals: Experienced additions like Andy Gray, Aaron Wilbraham, Clinton Morrison, James Brown and James Hayter would all add much-needed depth to the front line. Craig Curran, Andy Williams, Michael Symes, Rhys Murphy and Jon Shaw could also be alternatives to take a look at.

However the squad looks when August 18th comes around, the arrivals of the likes of Portsmouth, Coventry, Swindon and Crewe should make for a competitive and interesting season for fans of League One sides.

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