U's target a hat-trick of league wins, at the expense of hosts Macclesfield

PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 February 2019

Ryan Jackson celebrates on the back of goalscorer Frank Nouble during the 3-0 win over Cheltenham, in the U's last home game. Jackson could play as a wing-back today, if the U's chose to start with a three-man defence  Picture: STEVE WALLER

Ryan Jackson celebrates on the back of goalscorer Frank Nouble during the 3-0 win over Cheltenham, in the U's last home game. Jackson could play as a wing-back today, if the U's chose to start with a three-man defence Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United are bang in form, and hoping to mark their first visit to Macclesfield Town for 20 years with a third win on the spin this afternoon.

The U’s have been in the thick of the promotion race for virtually the whole season, and the recent back-to-back wins at Northampton Town (4-0) and over Cheltenham (3-0) have seen them consolidate themselves in the top seven.

However, the players still believe that a top-three berth is within their capabilities, during the last third of the campaign, especially as the goals are starting to flow again to complement a watertight defence.

“The squad is bouncing, and the new signings coming in have made it tastier,” explained U’s boss John McGreal.

“It’s working well at both ends, but the goals and the clean-sheets are all as one. The defence begins with the role of the No. 9 or the whole of the top four, and collectively we have been getting the rewards.

“We have wingers and full-backs scoring goals, so if one or two of our strikers are being nailed by the opposition, we have others who can score from elsewhere on the pitch.

“Long may that continue,” added McGreal.

The U’s new trio of Abo Eisa, Ben Stevenson and Callum Roberts have all made favourable impressions, since their arrivals at the end of last month.

Winger Eisa has scored on each of his first two appearances, while Stevenson has pulled the strings in midfield and Newcastle United loanee attacker Roberts looks a handy player to have on the bench.

Stevenson faces a fitness test today, while fellow midfielder Harry Pell is a definite non-starter due to a sore hamstring, so McGreal’s options in the centre of the park might be more limited today.

But on the plus side, Luke Norris is fighting fit again, so an attack-minded bench will give McGreal several alternatives if the U’s find themselves chasing the game at Moss Rose.

“Luke is a goal-threat, and he’s had two weeks of training under his belt now, so he could start if I needed him to,” said McGreal.

“He’s ready and able, if called upon. It’s been a bit stop-start for him since his (ankle) injury.”

Left-back Vincent-Young, who scored against the Cobblers and the Robins over the last fortnight, is set to make his 100th league appearance for the club, while fellow full-back Ryan Jackson celebrated his 300th career league appearance last weekend.

The U’s have recorded back-to-back league wins four times this season, but have yet to extend any of these into three on the bounce.

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