English League 1

Johnson: Baxter loss opens gap

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Thu, 11 Apr 2013 18:04:00

Wolfsburg defender Simon Kjaer has played down suggestions that his future lies away from the Bundesliga club.

The Denmark international, who is currently under contract until June 2014, has had a difficult time since his move from Italian club Palermo in 2010 and spent time on loan at Roma.

But Kjaer is keen to fight for his first-team spot in Dieter Hecking's side and insists he is happy at the Volkswagen Arena.

He told Norddeutscher Rundfunk: "I have been in talks with Mr Allofs (Wolfsburg's general manager). We will see what he is out for in the summer and then we will also learn what the manager wants to do.

"If they say that I have to leave, then I will have no choice but to accept it. I am not out to make any fuss."

The 24-year-old was U's boss Joe Dunne's first new signing in January when he arrived from Portsmouth, for whom he had made 13 appearances over the first half of this season.

But Compton has managed just one start and six substitute outings for Colchester since his arrival and will not be offered a new deal at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Dunne told the club's official website: "It's never nice to have to tell a player he's no longer needed and that was the case with Jack.

"He's been a great professional in his time here but found it hard to break into the first team. I wish him all the best in his endeavours elsewhere and thank him for the hard work he put in here."

On-loan striker Troy Hewitt has also returned to parent club QPR having stepped off the bench just once for Colchester during his month-long stay with the club.

Bentley expressed his desire to keep the player in question, and further senior squad members could be heading for the exit door before the start of next season.

"Unfortunately one of the lads I'm desperate to keep, and he's desperate to stay, won't be staying," he told the Morecambe Visitor.

"His contract will probably be terminated so he's got a chance to get another club and do a bit of work and cut down on his travel.

"It's a massive blow for us. I've got a lot of time for the lad and he's been a good signing for us and he was keen to stay as well.

"But it's all part of the cutbacks we've got to make because we can't afford to keep him. We now need to look and identify a replacement for him."

Latics sit outside the League One relegation zone on goal difference following Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Preston, in which top scorer Baxter picked up his 10th booking of the season to land a two-match ban.

The former Everton youngster started in a midfield role at Deepdale, with Robbie Simpson and Lee Barnard spearheading an attack that was bolstered by the second-half introductions of Kirk Millar and Matt Smith, understandably leaving Johnson with the feeling he has players ready to step up to the plate.

"That's a big loss for us, obviously," he said of Baxter's suspension. "Now we've got other people to come in.

"We're lucky enough to have a squad where we've got people chomping at the bit, ready to come in."

One man who could find his first-team place under threat is left-back Jonathan Grounds.

Johnson pulled few punches in his assessment of the penalty incident leading to Preston's first goal in midweek, in which Jeffrey Monakana's cross struck Ground's outstretched arm, and sympathy was in short supply.

"From my point of view it's bad defending," he said. "He should work his feet quicker, he should get out there quicker.

"He's turning his back and throwing his arm up in the air. What do you expect?"

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