And then there were two!

ONE minute Colchester United have a squad teeming with centre-halves; the next they are down to their last two!

Carl Marston

Colchester soccer

By Carl Marston

ONE minute Colchester United have a squad teeming with centre-halves; the next they are down to their last two!

The U's have had four experienced centre-halves for the bulk of this season, with Paul Reid, Pat Baldwin, Chris Coyne and Matt Heath fighting for two positions.

But just 24 hours after the U's allowed Heath to go out on loan to League One rivals Brighton, fellow defender Reid hobbled off the pitch with a knee injury during the 2-2 draw at Huddersfield on Tuesday night.

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Manager Paul Lambert revealed yesterday that Reid's injury could be long-term, which means that a ring-rusty Coyne will start alongside Baldwin at high-flying Oldham tomorrow.

“Paul (Reid) is going to have a scan on his knee. It's a little bit of a concern, not only to him but to everyone at the club,” admitted Lambert.

“Chris (Coyne) has not played much over the last couple of months. His last full game was at Brighton on Boxing Day, when he injured his knee.

“He also hurt his ankle on one of his returns from playing for Australia, but he did fine for us at Huddersfield (as a 55th minute substitute).

“At the moment we can't recall Matt Heath. That sometimes happens in football, when you let someone go elsewhere and you then get injuries at home. But Matt needed games.

“Likewise, I allowed Jamie Guy to go out on loan to Dagenham & Redbridge this week. He needs full games, not just 10 or 15 minutes as a substitute, so I decided to let him go.

“We have a lot of players here. The squad is too big, that's for sure,” added Lambert.

Club captain Coyne is relishing the challenge. He said: “I'm looking forward to playing week in, week out, again. It's been a long time since I've last played.”

The U's are currently eight points adrift of the play-offs, with just 13 matches remaining. Tomorrow's hosts Oldham are currently fourth in the table.

Lambert has a tricky decision to make between Dean Gerken and Mark Cousins for the goalkeeping position at Boundary Park, following Jimmy Walker's return to West Ham at the end of his emergency loan deal.

Defender John White has recovered from a shoulder problem and so should be on the bench. He would be the most likely to fill in at centre-half if either Coyne or Baldwin were to suffer an injury.