Matt comes in from the cold

COLCHESTER United defender Matt Heath started this season out-in-the-cold, on loan at Essex rivals Southend.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United defender Matt Heath started this season out-in-the-cold, on loan at Essex rivals Southend.

But the former Leicester and Leeds centre-half signalled his return to the U's starting line-up, under new manager Aidy Boothroyd, with a man-of-the-match display at Swindon.

“It's great to be back. I've been back at Colchester for two weeks, with a new manager in charge,” enthused Heath.

“It's just what I wanted, and now I want to make sure that I take this chance.

“Every player wants to play their fair share of games, and that's why I haven't been where I have wanted to be over these last few months.

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“You get into a routine of not starting games, unless there are lots of injuries, so it's not a nice position to be in.

“However, the new manager coming in has been a breath of fresh air. A lot of players felt that they did not have a chance under the old manager (Paul Lambert).

“I wasn't really one of them, because I was always training well. I always thought that if there was a little chance, then he would have played me.

“But he did loan me out to other clubs twice (Brighton and Southend), so I suppose I knew that I wasn't in his plans.

“At least going out on loan to Southend has meant that I have played some matches and kept fit.

“Otherwise, I would have been playing catch-up all the time. As it is, I felt a bit leggy late on, because we had a lot of defending to do,” added Heath.

An injury to skipper Pat Baldwin, just before half-time in the previous weekend's goalless draw at Southampton, has given Heath this opportunity to impress.

He replaced Baldwin at St Mary's, and was in the starting line-up alongside Magnus Okuonghae at the heart of defence at the County Ground.

The 27-year-old responded well, with the highlight being a crunching tackle on Robins striker Alex Revell, just as the ex-Southend man was preparing to shoot.

“That felt good, to get in a last-ditch tackle,” continued Heath.

“I had been a team-mate of Alex (Revell) at Southend. We had played and trained together, and it's always a little strange when you are playing against a mate. I always try not to say anything, though I guess he wanted me to speak and so lose my concentration.

“I know that we conceded because we didn't defend our own set piece, but otherwise that's two games and two clean-sheets in open play.

“We were confident before the game, and I thought we started well for the first 10 minutes. Having got the goal, we felt we could go out and win the game, without being over-confident, but either team could have won it at the end. I suppose a draw was the fair result.

“There's a good feeling about our place at the moment. The lads that were out-casted are back again, and the gaffer is giving us all a chance.

“Everyone wants to play and do well for Colchester United,” concluded Heath.