COLCHESTER are the “better” side going into tonight’s clash with Swindon Town, according to Robins boss Paolo Di Canio.
The U’s may lie 15 places below Town in the League One table and Joe Dunne’s side may be contemplating the challenge of avoiding relegation rather than the dizzy heights of automatic promotion, but they have won each of their last two games and that - in Di Canio’s eyes - means they go into the match with the advantage.
The Italian, who also told the assembled media at his pre-match press conference that he expects the Weston Homes Community Stadium pitch to have an influence on proceedings, envisages a stern test from the Essex outfit.
“Tomorrow it will be difficult because it will be another pitch where you can’t play football. This is another aspect with all the other problems, it gives you even less chance to get what you want, and we are playing against a side that in this moment are better than us,” he said.
“They have two wins in two against two draws in two. They have five goals scored and two goals conceded against one goal scored and one conceded. At this moment they are better than us.
“It’s not about fifth from the bottom and fourth from the top. At this moment we have to say that we are going to play against a side which is better than us, for a different reason and not for the individuals’ technical quality.
“I hope tomorrow we can get a draw there. They have better confidence now, they have changed the system a bit, they have changed some players and some players who have been out for a few weeks are back in the team and affecting it in a positive way.
“There is quality there. We saw in here when we lost to them. They have one or two players who have played in the Premiership and Championship.
“It will be very difficult, not because I am giving up, but if we draw it would be a fantastic job.”
Di Canio could have as few as 13 players in his matchday squad tonight.
Troy Archibald-Henville, Miles Storey, Joe Devera and Louis Thompson are all injured, while Aaron Oakley has been called up by Wales Under 21s and Chris Martin has returned to Norwich.
However, the Swindon manager has ruled out using Luke Rooney, Lee Cox or any members of the youth team squad.
He said: “They (Rooney and Cox) didn’t train with us for a while because they had a long period away. They had three weeks to try to come back to use, and it’s difficult. I would like to have many options but tomorrow if I recover one player we are 14. That is enough to have the subs to change if something goes wrong during the game.
“For tomorrow’s game they are not selected.
“We have too much problem to think now to bring in some young players, we’re not talking about youth now. There is not a chance to bring something or someone with the rest of the team.
“It’s ridiculous to bring three or four players just to have a travelling 18, it’s more ridiculous than going with 14, which is pathetic and ridiculous. But it’s more ridiculous to bring four of the youngest - all like this, skinny like this, not having the energy to run 100 metres.
“Maybe I can think about using Bedders (Leigh Bedwell) as a striker.”