'We must stay fit and keep going' - U's midfielder Stevenson
PUBLISHED: 06:00 08 March 2019
2019 Colchester United Football Club
Ben Stevenson has graduated from being one of the least experienced central midfielders in Colchester United's squad, to becoming the most experienced fit midfielder, within the space of just a few weeks.
Injuries have struck down the trio of Tom Lapslie, Harry Pell and Brandon Comley in recent weeks, leaving Stevenson, who only arrived at the club at the end of January, as the No. 1 choice central midfielder.
The 21-year-old former Coventry City and Wolves man was the senior partner in the centre of the park, alongside Diaz Wright, during the last two matches at home to Carlisle United (1-1 draw) and at Swindon Town (3-0 defeat last weekend).
And this duo are set to form a partnership again, against visiting Newport County tomorrow.
“We did have so many options in midfield, but injuries have been an issue,” explained Stevenson, following yesterday’s training session at Florence Park, Tiptree.
“We have gone from having so many options, and different options, to suddenly picking up three injuries, but that happens in football.
“We have to deal with it, while hoping that the others return as quickly as possible.
“I think that Diaz (Wright) has settled in well.
“It’s a bit like when I first had my breakthrough in the Coventry City side, when other players’ injuries gave me a chance, and it’s about taking that opportunity.
“I’m happy to play alongside Diaz. He’s a good player, a ball-player who likes to keep things moving.
“It’s important that we stay fit and keep going, because we can’t afford to have any more injuries in that central midfield position.
“We will be doing out best to stay fit, and doing our best for the team.
“It’s been a good move for me. I came here wanting to play as many games as possible, and I’ve already gone from being the most inexperienced midfielder to the most experienced, due to the injuries. I’m willing to take that on my shoulders,” added Stevenson.
The U’s 3-0 defeat at Swindon saw them drop out of the League Two play-off zone, after what had been a very successful February with two wins and two draws from four games.
But John McGreal’s man are still within touching distance, a mere one place adrift of the top seven (out of it on goal difference), going into the last 11 fixtures of the season.
“The team has been consistent all season, and it was great that we won our first couple of matches when I arrived,” continued Stevenson.
“We went through February unbeaten, but we perhaps took our foot off the pedal last weekend (at Swindon) when we didn’t perform as well as we had been doing.
“But there are 11 games left, and they are all big games. We need to win as many of them as possible.
“A lot can happen over the next week, because we have three games, though we will take each one as it comes,” added Stevenson, with reference to the following Tuesday night’s home game against Forest Green Rovers, and the following weekend’s long trip to Exeter City.
Stevenson is under no illusions as to the threat likely to come from tomorrow’s opponents Newport County, who boast two natural goalscorers in Padraig Amond (20 goals in all competitions) and Jamille Batt (15 goals.
“Newport are a real goal threat,” said Stevenson.
“They have had a good season, especially with their FA Cup run (beaten by Manchester City in the fifth round) and we have got to be careful.
“We know their threats, especially from set pieces, and we need to quash that threat while continuing to play our game.
“We are determined to bounce back from the defeat at Swindon.”
- U’s boss John McGreal missed out on the League Two manager of the month award for February, having been among the four nominations on the back of eight points accrued from a possible 12.
Instead, Bury manager Ryan Lowe won the award for the second time in as many months, as his Shakers step up their chase of league leaders Lincoln City.