U's face battle to keep popular loan duo

Gazette: Loan ranger - Luke Garbutt has impressed for Colchester United since signing for them from Everton on loan. Picture: STEVE BRADING (CO86650-15) Loan ranger - Luke Garbutt has impressed for Colchester United since signing for them from Everton on loan. Picture: STEVE BRADING (CO86650-15)

Colchester United manager Joe Dunne admits he faces a battle to keep hold of his Premier League loan stars in the January transfer window.

Loan deals for both Sam Walker from Chelsea and Everton defender Luke Garbutt are both due to expire next month.

And with the pair having shone for the U’s in League One this season, Dunne is expecting it to be difficult to retain their services for the second half of the campaign.

However, the U’s boss has revealed he has spoken to chairman Robbie Cowling about the possibility of keeping the pair at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Dunne said: “Sam Walker and Luke Garbutt are players we’d like to do something with, in terms of extending their loans.

“But there will be other people telling them that the possibilities could be endless for them too, because they’re both playing particularly well.

“It’s going to be a battle to try and keep them but the chairman and I speak all of the time.

“We know what we’d like to do in terms of keeping hold of what we’ve got and certainly Sam, Luke and Alex Gilbey are those players.

“We have three players there that we’d like to keep and there are also other big players who are out of contract at the end of the season.

“It’s a big couple of months coming up but we will surely be dictated to by finances and what we can actually afford.”

Colchester did not have a game at the weekend, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United at the first-round stage last month.

Their next game is a home fixture in League One against lowly Notts County, this Saturday.

Dunne admitted that it is less than ideal not to have a match to prepare for.

But despite having no match at the weekend, the Colchester manager is pleased with the way that training has gone.

“You don’t like working during the week and not having a game at the weekend,” added Dunne.

“We would rather have a game and put things into practice and after the Tranmere game, we wanted a game pretty quickly.

“But the work we have got into them has enabled us to breach it a bit and we’ve got out of the week what we wanted.

“We were bitterly disappointed after the Tranmere game and we’ve worked on things where we feel we could have worked an advantage.

“We’ve worked intensely on the little things that we think can make us better.

“I suppose it’s difficult training when there’s no game at the end of it.

“But we’ve been able to focus on individual stuff and mental stuff like concentration, taking our chances and winning our battles.

“In terms of training and coaching, it’s been a productive week for the players and staff.”

For all of the latest Colchester United news, see the Daily Gazette.

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