ALLI SHOWS WAY TO THE TOP FOR DREAMER GILBEY
ALEX Gilbey is on the fast track to the Premier League, according to Colchester manager Kevin Keen, and the midfielder is eager to prove it when Spurs come to town.
Keen was left waxing lyrical on Tuesday night after Gilbey’s display against Fleetwood Town, describing the 21-year-old as a ‘precious jewel’ who will be playing in the top flight in the next three years.
For now he is struggling near the foot of League One with the U’s but an FA Cup fourth round tie with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday will offer a glimpse of the promised land.
Spurs starlet Dele Alli made the leap from League One to the top flight and, with Keen’s words ringing in his ears, Gilbey is out to emulate the man who could well be his opposite number on Saturday.
“It is probably one of the best things anyone has ever said about me but now the hard part is doing it,” he said.
“Everyone’s aim is to play in the Premier League and that is my aim. It’s always in the back of my mind but for him to come out and say that is brilliant. Now I have got to work even harder than before. Now is the time to show it.
“I would like to go up against Christian Eriksen because he is brilliant, then you have got guys like Eric Dier. If you want to be the best, you have got to play the best.
“I played against Alli a couple of times and even then you could tell he was a top player. He deserved his move and he has justified the move. He has bossed it and he is scoring goals for England.
“He has shown that it can be done. Sometimes it can take one good game and if you look at players like Dele, then you realise what is possible.”
The secret to Gilbey’s upturn in form, according to the man himself, is Keen, who has allowed the midfield man some extra freedom since taking the reins at the U’s shortly before Christmas.
“The few previous managers I played under wanted me to be more of a defensive midfielder but my game is being around the box and getting forward,” he continued.
“That’s how I originally got into the first team but I had come away from that a bit. I’m athletic so I know I will be able to get up and down the pitch, then I can finish and I can slide balls through.
“He has come into a club low on confidence and struggling and he has turned it into a proper football club. He has got everyone in order and everyone is on the same page now.
“Everyone around the building is confident. At one point we weren’t but since the gaffer has come in, things have changed.”
Gilbey’s immediate concerns surround hauling Colchester out of the bottom four, but the former U’s youth team skipper recognises there may be cause to move on one day.
That is also true for George Moncur, his midfield partner attracting interest from a handful of Championship clubs, and Gilbey is not averse to letting his partnerin-crime move on.
“I have been at the club since I was 13 and I would be devastated to leave the fans,” he added.
“Colchester will always have a place in my heart but football is a career. It will be hard but I need to do it when the time comes.
“Moncur is a top player. He came in from West Ham last season and we have formed a good partnership this season. Hopefully we can hold onto him but I would try and give him the best advice possible.
“You can never hold someone back to save us so, if the opportunity was right, I would be the first person to tell him to better his career and he would do the same for me.”
PREMIER CLASS? Alex Gilbey, left, is tipped for big things