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Jon Waldron: My views on the U's
How rewarding it must have been for everyone involved with Colchester United to see birthday boy Macauley Bonne score the winner against Peterborough United.
Bonne’s beaming smile as he left the pitch following his memorable first-ever senior goal was lovely to see.
It was an enduring image and one that symbolised a tantalising glimpse of the future of the U’s.
The 18-year-old striker is just one of a batch of talented, fearless young players who are being given their chance to shine by manager Joe Dunne, who has never been afraid to give them their head.
Dunne has had the courage of his convictions to field half a dozen recent academy players this season, with others included within the matchday squad.
And crucially, the U’s boss deserves credit for using them at the right times – his decision to send on Bonne and Sammie Szmodics when he did against Peterborough brought rich reward.
Admittedly, the youngsters’ window of opportunity may have been opened a little wider by the horrendous run of injuries experienced by Colchester, over recent weeks.
But having given academy starlets such as Bonne, Sammie Szmodics, Alex Gilbey and Tosin Olufemi their first-team chance, Dunne has always stressed that the club have some talented youngsters waiting in the wings.
With limited funds available, it is well publicised that Colchester decided some time ago that the way forward for them was to develop from within and nurture their own players.
It has not happened by accident, though.
Robbie Cowling has invested considerable funds into the U’s youth system, with the likes of Tony Humes, Richard Hall, John McGreal and Wayne Brown playing a big part in the development of the club’s up-and-coming players.
And despite the disappointment of failing to secure Category Two academy status in August, the U’s chairman is as determined as ever to ensure that the club’s youth system succeeds.
On the evidence of last Saturday, it already is.
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