Colchester United midfielder Harry Pell's weekly Gazette column

Up for the cup

IT’S the FA Cup for us on Saturday and a trip to play League One side Accrington Stanley.

It’s important to put the league to bed this weekend and come back refocused because it’s been really intense, over the last few weeks.

I think it’s a good thing to focus our minds on something different and we now have two cup fixtures to look forward to.

No-one will be talking about the three points or the league table.

We’ll be going into the tie as underdogs – 100 per cent.

John Coleman has done a terrific job at Accrington.

I know their striker Billy Kee - it’s easier said than done but it’s important that we keep him quiet on Saturday.

We’re all looking forward to it and we want to make progress in the competition and it would be a good scalp for us, if we can go through.

Accrington did last year what we want to achieve at Colchester, this year.

We’ve already proved a few points this year with wins over the likes of Lincoln and others and it’ll be the same if we can win, this weekend.

I’ve got some nice memories of the FA Cup and playing against Steven Gerrard is the standout, so far.

When I was at AFC Wimbledon, we played against him and Liverpool in 2015 and I will never forget that experience.

Gerrard scored two in that game and he’s one of the game’s icons.

I wanted to get his shirt afterwards but Ade Akinfenwa got there first – and I wasn’t going to argue with him!

The FA Cup is a great competition and it speaks for itself.

No-one downplays it and for the clubs below the Premier League, it’s a massive opportunity for players to make a name for themselves and their teams.

I’m sure that there have been many cases over the years where players have got moves on the back of their performance, in the FA Cup.

I won't change my game...despite suspension

I PICKED up my fifth booking of the season against Swindon, which means I’ll be suspended for one match.

But it looks as though I’ll be available for our FA Cup match at Accrington Stanley on Saturday – and banned for our next league game at Newport County.

New rules mean that yellow cards picked up in EFL matches will only be relevant to that competition.

It’s disappointing to miss any game and it will be especially hard to sit out the Newport game, on Saturday week.

But the gaffer and everyone else know that my character on the pitch and the way I play means that I am always prone to a booking.

That’s the way I’ve always been and I won’t change that – I’ll always pick up a few bookings over the course of a season.

All smiles

OUR club is in a very positive place at the moment.

The manager is up for the Manager of the Month award and that’s another good thing - all of the boys want him to get it and things like that show that we’re doing the right things.

Training has been very lively this week after our win over Swindon and there are a lot of smiling faces around.

But we don’t want to get carried away.

We could have had a bit more belief and cutting edge in the first half, to get a goal.

Our home form is looking really strong at the moment and teams will have to come and adapt to try and beat us - they’re setting traps for us.

There was around a minute and 40 seconds to play in the first half and with Luke Norris in the discomfort that was in, I said to the fourth official it might be an idea to end the first half there.

But we stayed professional and focused and we wanted to go in at half-time to reassess, for the second half.

Szmods took his opportunity really well and it was a well-worked goal.

Frank Nouble did really well in the build-up and you know that he’ll give you absolute strength and hold anything played into him.

We’re lucky to have him and Luke Norris and Mika Mandron, because they all offer something different for the team.

We're rooting for Luke

LUKE Norris’s injury against Swindon Town tarnished our win, last Saturday.

He’s been so good for us and all of the boys were really worried about him.

We all hope that he’ll be back with us sooner, rather than later.

He was in a bit of discomfort and no player wants to see that.

Needless to say, the boys are all fully behind him and we’ll make sure that he’s alright.

We want to be successful this year and we believe that we can achieve something but that’s all down to keeping the squad fit.

Luke’s injury will be one of many disappointments during the course of a 46-game season and it’s how we deal with them that’s important.

There will be icebergs during the course of any season and it’s whether you go steaming into them or go around them.

Roo-call is fully deserved

I THINK it’s terrific that Wayne Rooney has been given a farewell appearance for England when they play the United States at Wembley, later this month.

He’s got so much negativity towards him but if you look at his success, his career speaks for itself.

England need to make more of their great football servants and he has been an unbelievable player for his country.

He is England’s record goalscorer so who is anyone to say anything about him making one more appearance?

Young promise

APPARENTLY a 14-year-old scored his first professional goal in Paraguay.

That’s no mean feat and it got me thinking back to the early days of my own career.

I was at Charlton Athletic between the ages of seven and 17 years old.

After I was scouted, because of my size people thought I was older than I was and I ended up playing a year up, which gave me a lot of experience.

Over the years, Charlton have brought through a lot of players who’ve gone on and made it professionally and I had people like Carl Jenkinson, JonJo Shelvey and Harry Arter in my year.

When it came round to them offering pro deals, Charlton told me my route was blocked but I respect people who are honest and there are no hard feelings.

They told me that three other teams were interested in offering me a deal – Bristol Rovers, Wycombe Wanderers and Gillingham.

I ended up going to Bristol Rovers, because they were in the higher division at the time.

Likeable Lapslie

CRISTIANO Ronaldo was often laughed at by his Manchester United team-mates for his determination in training to become the world’s best player, according to Darren Fletcher.

He’s not done too badly since, has he?

We’ve got some great trainers at our club and a lot of the boys want to stay on and do extra.

It’s a really good group that wants to achieve and progress and that comes from being a very young group and not having any players who are on their last pay packet – none of our players are that way inclined.

I’d say Tom Lapslie is up there with our best trainers.

He’s very likeable and very professional with it and I’m sure he’s going to go on and have a really good career, because of the hard work he puts in.

Whatever his potential, he will go on and achieve it because he has the right character and ticks all of the right boxes.

A dog's life

WE have a great new addition in our house – Rodney the whippet.

I bought him as a present for my fiancée for her birthday.

He’s only eight weeks old and is a real bundle of energy.

In fact, he’s a bit like me – he bounds around the house and he’s long, gangly and skinny!