WHEN Armando Dobra curled a delightful shot into the far corner to score his first-ever league goal against Scunthorpe United last October, things looked to be on the up for the talented youngster.

The 20-year-old was starting regularly and getting valuable game time for Colchester United following his season-long loan from Ipswich Town; his hard work was paying off.

"My end product is the thing I feel has been lacking in my game," he said, after scoring what proved to be the U's winner in a 2-1 victory over Scunthorpe at the JobServe Community Stadium.

"Now I'm starting to get the goals that my hard work on the training ground I think deserves."


Back then, Dobra was getting plenty of minutes, playing regularly for Colchester in the first half of the League Two season.

But since the turn of the calendar year, he has quickly become the forgotten man in the U's squad and has been out of the picture.

Dobra was a frequent performer for Colchester after making the season-long loan move from their League One neighbours Ipswich Town, in the summer.

Under Hayden Mullins, the Albania under-21 international made 17 league and cup appearances.

Of that number, he clocked up seven league starts in that time and 11 appearances in total in League Two, scoring once.


But even before Mullins' departure as head coach on January 19, Dobra had seemingly fallen out of favour at the U's.

His last league start came on New Year's Day in Colchester's 3-1 defeat at Crawley Town, where he was taken off at half-time and replaced by Luke Chambers.

And although he started the U's Papa John's Trophy tie at Sutton United, he was taken off midway through the second half.

It proved to be his last first-team appearance for Colchester, to date.

Dobra has failed to play a single minute under the U's interim head coach, Wayne Brown.

Up until this month, Dobra had been involved in Colchester's Professional Development League Two games for the club's under-23s, during his omission from the first team.

But he has not even been involved at academy level for the U's, over recent weeks.


Dobra remains on loan at Colchester, as Brown recently confirmed.

“Dobs is available for selection, if and when needed," said the U's interim boss when asked by the Gazette about the midfielder's omission.

One explanation for Dobra's lack of game time might be the number of loanees that Colchester currently have.

He is one of six players currently on loan, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

EFL rules state that clubs can only include a maximum of five loanees, in their 18-man matchday squad.


Colchester brought in Sam Hornby, Myles Kenlock, Owura Edwards, Corie Andrews and Tyreik Wright on loan, in the January window.

And those five players have all been involved under Brown in Colchester's battle for League Two survival, whether in the starting line-up or on the bench.

That has seemingly meant that Dobra has found himself out of the picture.

Brown has stated on a number of occasions that everyone in the squad will be needed, between now and the end of the season.

The likes of Cameron Coxe, Tom Eastman and Miles Welch-Hayes have had game time over recent games, having previously found themselves out of the picture.

That suggests that the door could still be open for Dobra at the U's in their remaining nine games of the campaign.

Time will tell whether or not we have seen the last of him, in a Colchester United shirt.