Kit prepares to be the best of enemies

KIT Symons used to play in the same side as Bristol Rovers coach Paul Trollope, both for club and country.

Carl Marston

KIT Symons used to play in the same side as Bristol Rovers coach Paul Trollope, both for club and country. However, there will be no love lost tomorrow.

Colchester United caretaker manager Symons really needs to mastermind a win, which would be the U's first at their new Community Stadium, if he is to boost his own chances of landing the manager's post full-time.

Standing in his way is an old friend and team colleague - former midfielder Trollope has been the first team coach at Rovers for the last three years.

“Paul (Trollope) and I were team-mates at Fulham, and also Wales,” revealed Symons.

“I know that he has the same sentiments as me. He always liked to play attacking football, which is what I'm trying to do as well. Bristol Rovers are below us in the league, but they score a lot of goals.

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“They concede quite a few as well, so I'm predicting quite an entertaining afternoon.”

Both Trollope and Symons are of the younger breed of managers who are hungry for success. But whereas Symons' long-term future is very much in the balance, 36-year-old Trollope has already established himself at the Memorial Stadium following promotion from League Two in 2006-07.

He works alongside Lennie Lawrence in a two-tier system, with the experienced Lawrence in an “upstairs” role as a Director of Football.

During his playing days, Trollope moved to Fulham from Derby County for £600,000 in 1997. He was joined at Craven Cottage a year later by Symons, who switched from Manchester City on a free transfer.

But the duo will be in opposition dug-outs tomorrow. Rovers are below the U's on goal difference, having only claimed one victory from 10 league and cup games to date, although that was an impressive 6-1 demolition of bottom club Hereford.

United have yet to taste victory from four games at their new ground, following two draws and two defeats. But at least Symons can welcome back club record signing Steven Gillespie, who completed his three-match ban during Tuesday night's 1-0 defeat by Leicester.

Symons added: “Having Steven (Gillespie) back in contention is a real blessing. He's never really got started, since he arrived this summer, but hopefully he can now stay fit and get a run in the team.”

The U's will be at full strength, except for an injury to left-back Matt Lockwood, while Rovers are sweating on injuries to defenders Steve Elliott and Ryan Green, who both hobbled off during the first-half of last weekend's goalless home draw against Crewe.