Hills on the horizon

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert is set to complete his second signing today, since his appointment last month, when he welcomes teenage left-back Lee Hills to the Community Stadium.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United boss Paul Lambert is set to complete his second signing today, since his appointment last month, when he welcomes teenage left-back Lee Hills to the Community Stadium.

Hills is poised to sign on a one-month loan from Crystal Palace, just 10 days after Sam Williams become Lambert's first new recruit when moving on a three-month loan from Aston Villa.

And Hills has a secret weapon - a long throw! Just as Rory Delap has been causing mayhem with his long throws into the box for Stoke City in the Premier League this season, so Hills is also reported to have a dangerous delivery from the touch-line.

The left-back berth has been a problem area for the U's this season. The experienced Matt Lockwood, who was earmarked as the No. 1 choice left-back, has been struggling with injury for the last couple of months.

Gary Borrowdale was a temporary replacement, when arriving on a one-month's loan from Coventry City during Kit Symons' reign as caretaker. In recent matches, Johnnie Jackson has been the makeshift left-back, even though the former Tottenham man prefers to play in midfield.

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The U's entertain Walsall on Saturday, and Hills should go straight into the squad, if his loan deal is rubber-stamped today.

Croydon-born Hills was actually a target of Symons in September, although Palace boss Neil Warnock was not prepared to let his 18-year-old leave at the time, due to a lack of cover at left-back.

But the situation has since changed. Welshman Rhoys Wiggins is now considered the reserve left-back behind regular performer Clint Hill, which means that Hills is free to gain some first-team experience elsewhere.

Hills, who was a junior at Arsenal before moving to Palace as a trainee, has made 16 senior appearances for the Eagles, but only three this term. However, he is regarded as a big prospect, having played for England Under-18s and Under-19s.

Palace boss Warnock said: “He (Hills) is going to go out on loan for a month to get some games under his belt.

“When Colchester asked about him before we didn't have any cover for Clint Hill at left back. Rhoys Wiggins wasn't doing very well then but he's doing well now, so we have decided to let Lee go and get some games and he wants to go out on loan.”

Hills made his Palace debut against Watford a year ago, and scored his first goal in the televised game at Bristol City. He signed a two-year deal in January.

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