Five reasons why U's could finally celebrate promotion

PUBLISHED: 10:42 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:42 01 August 2019

Bags of experience: Frank Nouble, celebrating a goal against Newport, with defender Tom Eastman. Both should be key men for the U's this season.  Picture: STEVE WALLER

Bags of experience: Frank Nouble, celebrating a goal against Newport, with defender Tom Eastman. Both should be key men for the U's this season. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United will be hoping to secure promotion, at the fourth time of asking since being relegated in 2016, again with John McGreal at the helm. The signs look encouraging for the 2019-20 campaign.

Harry Pell, firing home a penalty against Notts County, is fighting fit. Picture: STEVE WALLERHarry Pell, firing home a penalty against Notts County, is fighting fit. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Here are five reasons why the U's are looking in good shape for the upcoming season.

1 GOALKEEPER

The arrival of Dean Gerken could prove a masterstroke. The return of the keeper who did so much to steer the U's into the Championship in 2006 - including his two fine one-on-one saves on the final day 0-0 draw at Yeovil - should give a steadying influence to the U's backline. The team often looked bit shaky with Rene Gilmartin (now Bristol City) and Dillon Barnes (now QPR) between the sticks last term, with a few too many individual errors, but Ethan Ross impressed at the back end of the season and should give good competition to Gerken.

Dean Gerken, back at Colchester United and a reason why the U's might win promotionDean Gerken, back at Colchester United and a reason why the U's might win promotion

2 DEFENCE

Despite the departure of Frankie Kent to Peterborough, the U's, in my opinion, still have two of the best centre-halves in the fourth tier. The vast experience of Tom Eastman and Luke Prosser should again prove invaluable in a promotion quest, while Ryan Jackson and Kane Vincent-Young are two of the best full-backs/wing-backs in League Two. New recruits Oman Sowunmi (from Yeovil) and Danny Collinge (from VfB Stuttgart) should also help, and Ollie Kensdale is maturing into a good defender.

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3 A FIT HARRY PELL

A main reason why the U's missed out on automatic promotion last season was the absence of the injured Harry Pell - the ex-Cheltenham midfielder missed the last three months of the season, his last appearance being a 3-0 win over his old club Cheltenham on February 9. But Pell is fighting fit again, which is terrific news for the U's.

4 EXCITING COURTNEY

Star man Sammie Szmodics may have gone, but the U's have a ready-made crowd replacement as a crowd favourite in Courtney Senior. Every Colchester supporter wishes Szmodics all the best at his new club Bristol City, and his bubbly enthusiasm, non-stop running and ability to score crucial goals will be badly missed. However, Senior had a good end to last season, and looks like he can plug the gap left by Szmodics, in terms of creativity and contributing a few goals. Summer recruits Jevani Brown (from Cambridge), Paris Cowan-Hall (from Wycombe) and Luke Gambin (from Luton) also look set to play big roles.

5 GOALS

Frank Nouble and Luke Norris are powerful strikers who have the ability to ruffle opposing defences. Nouble was consistent all season and bagged nine goals, while Norris will be hoping to rediscover the sort of form that saw him score seven goals in his first nine games at the start of last season.

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