Junior like 'a new signing' after Derry City loan: says Colchester United manager

STAYING PUT? . . . Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe celebrates netting a hat-trick against Finn Harps on the final day of the 2019 SSE Airtricity League season with Derry City.
STAYING PUT? . . . Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe celebrates netting a hat-trick against Finn Harps on the final day of the 2019 SSE Airtricity League season with Derry City.

COLCHESTER United manager, John McGreal believes Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe will be like a new signing for the EFL League Two club following his successful season-long loan spell at Derry City.

McGreal is hopeful the U’s will have profited from sending the striker out on loan to the League of Ireland and plans on drip-feeding him into the first team squad in the coming weeks.

Colchester currently sit 10th in the league table and with a hectic schedule including a Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Man United on the horizon, McGreal is hoping Junior will provide a spark and some much needed cover.

And the fact he returns to the Essex club as the League of Ireland’s top goalscorer, the U’s boss will be keeping a close eye on his progress over the next couple of weeks with Junior set to return to training next month following a period of recuperation.

”Speaking to him, he loved his time over there in Ireland,” said McGreal, “It’s been beneficial to him but now, it’s one where he does need a break to recuperate and also just to rest himself and the mind, more than anything when you’ve been playing week in, week out.

“I’m sure we’ll be drip-feeding him in, in a couple of weeks’ time. It could be like a new signing for us with the pitches this time of year starting to get sticky and bit flatter, injuries come more into the fold at this time of the season.”

Junior, whose contract with Colchester expires next summer, has been playing without a break for the past 16 months and McGreal expects to ease him back into action.

“The boy needs a break,” he said. “The sport science lads have had a good chat with him. I think he’s played for something like 16 months straight so he needs a break.

“He’s done particulalry well with the goals he’s scored over there. He popped in last week and Perry Blanchette (Colchester’s lead sport scientist) was able to give him his timetable and his itinerary with what’s expected of him. Otherwise you run the risk of burning the boy out.”

This latest development certainly won’t be welcomed by Derry City boss, Declan Devine who remains hopeful of negotiating new loan moves for both Junior and Sheffield United’s David Parkhouse.

However, the City boss insists he will continue to monitor their respective situations.

“I know ‘Parky’ is going back to Sheffield United but we will monitor that situation.

“We’re trying to tie down the rest of our squad from last year who are out of contract and we will speak to them over the coming days."

Commenting last week prior to talks with his parent club, Junior refused to rule out a return to Foyleside.

"I can’t rule out anything at this point," he said. "I really enjoyed my time in Derry so I wouldn’t rule out a return to Derry.”