Colchester United have pinned down the services of four of their bright young stars.

John White, Dean Gerken, George Elokobi and Garry Richards have all put pen to paper on new deals to keep them at the club.

Manager Phil Parkinson hopes it sends out a signal not only to youth-team members on the fringe of pushing towards the senior side but the Centre of Excellence and the parents of youngsters who are at the club.

He said: "Greg Halford, who is currently part of the England Under-20 squad, Gerken and White have shown to everyone, right through to the parents, that you can get ahead in football at Colchester if you have the right attitude."

White and goalkeeper Gerken both made several appearances in the first-team last season, impressing Parkinson every time.

He said: "White is a lad who can come in and do a job very well.

"He's only 18 years old so there is plenty of time for him to develop. If he keeps showing the right attitude then I'm sure he can.

"Gerken was a brilliant deputy to our regular keeper Aidan Davision and I'm disappointed that he wasn't named in the England Under-20 squad that Halford is in.

"Looking at the other keepers named in the squad, I think Gerken is above them."

Elokobi and Richards, though, have not secured first-team starts this season but both have made the bench on several occasions with Elokobi making headway towards the end of the season.

Parkinson hopes that Elokobi, a natural left-sided player, could start to push for the left-back position.

And he wants Richards to try to emulate the success seen by Pat Baldwin this season.

"I've given him the chance, like I did for Baldwin last year," said Parkinson.

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Published Wednesday, May 25, 2005

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