June 19 2013 Latest news:
by Carl Marston
Saturday, July 7, 2012
THE capture of Freddie Sears, on wonderful Wednesday, was a terrific fillip for Colchester United boss John Ward, and a great relief to all U’s supporters.
The Essex club’s loyal band of fans could have been forgiven for expressing doubts for the new season, following the much-used exit door at the Weston Homes Community Stadium over the summer.
It was bad enough to lose the club’s only two specialist senior strikers, in Kayode Odejayi and Steven Gillespie, to lower league clubs Rotherham and Fleetwood respectively.
But it was doubly frustrating to also hear of the departures of No.1 keeper Ben Williams, and No. 1 choice centre-half Magnus Okuonghae, at the start of this week. Both turned down the offer of new contracts.
Sears’ arrival, on a three-year deal, instantly lifted the gloom. The ex-West Ham attacker should be a big hit with the U’s and, crucially, should give a boost to season ticket sales.
But Sears, alone, will not guarantee another good season in League One.
The U’s have posted top 10 finishes in their last three campaigns, and to extend that impressie run Ward needs to recruit more players.
Specifically, I would suggest the U’s need to recruit a replacement for Okuonghae, at least one more striker, and perhaps also a winger.
If Ward can land new players in each of these positions, then 2012-13 should be another successful season.
A new central defender, to plug the gap left by the inspirational Okunoghae, must be the priority.
Okuonghae was undoubtedly the U’s best centre-half, and it will be difficult to find an experienced centre-back to fill his shoes.
Ward has options in the heart of defence, led by the ever-improving Tom Eastman and club stalwart Matt Heath, in addition to a number of young and emerging defenders. But he still needs a centre-half with leadership qualities.
Up front, Sears is looking forward to what should hopefully be his first full season of regular football, following a stop-start beginning to his career at West Ham.
The 22-year-old showed, during his loan spell with the U’s at the back end of last season, that he has the skills and tricks to upset opposing defences. But he will need help.
That’s why another striker, perhaps a target man to replace Odejayi, is also certain to be on Ward’s list.
And although the U’s boss has a choice of players to patrol the flanks, including Ian Henderson, Michael Rose and Karl Duguid, another winger might also be on the cards.
Fortunately, though, Ward still has time on his side.