Ward hails Okuonghae attitude

New defender has impressed U's number two

Okuonghae: Attracting interest

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Assistant boss John Ward is convinced Magnus Okuonghae can take both transfer speculation and the Colchester captaincy in his stride.

The Nigerian-born defender has impressed since joining on a two-year deal from Dagenham & Redbridge this summer and has been stand-in skipper for the U's while Pat Baldwin has been out injured.

The 23-year-old's recent form has alerted the attention of some Premier League and Championship clubs.

But while Ward accepts it is inevitable his top players are targeted by bigger clubs, he has told Okuonghae will only earn a shot at the big time if he shrugs off the transfer talk and focuses on the job at hand.

Sparkle

"The top tier can be very lucrative for players and when you are playing in League One it can make the eyes sparkle a little, but that will only happen if he continues to play at the top of his game," he told skysports.com.

"That is something for Magnus to do and I am sure that he is the type of lad that will continue to work hard and look to improve.

"He trains in the same manner that he plays and he is a good lad to work with. If another club comes along with an offer for him then that is something for the club and chairman to consider.

"But it is nothing unusual for a League One club because talented players from this division often move up the divisions."

Some struggle to cope with the added responsibility of being captain but it is a role that Okuonghae has relished in recent weeks.

Ward feels he has the ideal temperament to be a skipper and believes it has enhanced rather than hindered his game.

"I think that the main thing is that he is pleased with it because it can affect a player, but in this instance it hasn't," he added. "If anything it has made him more responsible.

"He knows that he has got it because Pat got injured, but at the same time he has revelled in the situation.

"I think that Magnus would be the same type of person with the armband than he would without it."