No pressure says Gillespie

STEVEN Gillespie is not feeling the pressure, despite arriving at Colchester United as the club's record signing.

Carl Marston

Colchester soccer, Gillespie story

By Carl Marston

STEVEN Gillespie is not feeling the pressure, despite arriving at Colchester United as the club's record signing.

Gillespie signed for the U's from fellow League One club Cheltenham Town for a £400,000 fee in June, so eclipsing the £350,000 paid to Luton for newly-appointed skipper Chris Coyne in January.

Front-runner Gillespie also faces the daunting prospect of trying to match the feats of his predecessors Jamie Cureton and Kevin Lisbie, who scored 24 goals (in 2006-07) and 17 goals (last season) respectively during their stays with the U's.

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Gillespie has been amongst the goals in pre-season, and is now looking forward to making his competitive debut at Hartlepool United on Saturday.

“I don't have a problem with the pressure side-of-things,” insisted Gillespie.

“I'm not worried about what the previous strikers have done at Colchester. I suppose there is some pressure attached to being the record club signing, but that's not going to worry me.

“It's helped that I've scored a few goals during pre-season, but like most players, I'm pleased that all the pre-season friendlies are now behind us.

“I'm ready and waiting for the new season, as is the whole team,” added Gillespie, who scored five goals in pre-season, with a hat-trick at Tiptree, the winner at Chelmsford and the opener in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Norwich.

Manager Geraint Williams has been quick to refer to the “large size” of the new pitch, and Gillespie is also relishing the prospect of playing on such a wide surface - the U's first home match of the new season is against Huddersfield Town on August 16.

“It was a very tight pitch at Cheltenham's Whaddon Road. There wasn't much room to play football, which suited us because we were struggling a little last season,” continued Gillespie, who actually netted 16 goals for the Robins.

“It was when we went away, and played some of the bigger clubs on their bigger pitches, like Nottingham Forest, where we were found wanting.

“Hopefully, the boot will be on the other foot this season, and we can outplay the opposition on our pitch. I only ever played at Layer Road once, but I remember that to be a tight pitch. Now we have a great surface and it's up to us to make the place our home.

“We know that we need to do that quickly, and get the crowd behind us. I've come to Colchester because ultimately I want to get into the Championship.

“I love scoring goals, which is why I felt disappointed not to score against Athletic Bilbao in our last friendly. I only had one chance, and the ball got stuck under my feet with that one.

“It was obviously a great experience to play a big team like Bilbao, though I've been lucky to play some good foreign sides already in my career.

“When I was a youngster at Liverpool, we travelled all over the world. We played against Real Madrid, and at an under-20 tournament in Australia,” added Gillespie.

For now, though, Gillespie is focusing all his thoughts on impressing at Hartlepool's Victoria Park on Saturday.