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September 23 2023 2.25am

Williams returns to Palace

March 21 2003

Gareth Williams

Gareth Williams

Crystal Palace have recalled Gareth Williams from Colchester United after Noel Whelan and Andy Johnson have been sidelined for the season.

Williams was a revelation at Layer Road, scoring six goals in eight appearances lifting them out of the bottom half of Division Two since joining in January.

Phil Parkinson, Colchester's manager confirmed the news last night. He said: "It's a big blow. Gareth (Williams) has done a fantastic job for Colchester United.

"I was hoping to extend his loan until the end of the season, when his second month on loan expired at the end of this month.

"But now we will have to make do without him. At the moment, we will stick with the strikers that we have at the club. I haven't got a replacement yet.

"In a perfect world, we would have kept Gareth until the end of the season. His goal-scoring ratio speaks for itself.

"He is a natural goalscorer. When I first came to the club, I likened him to Jamie Cureton at my previous club Reading. He doesn't panic in the penalty area. He is a cool customer.

"I predict a big future for Gareth. I'm sure he will go on to make a big impact in Division One. He has that knack of putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Everyone at Colchester United wishes Gareth well for the future. We are grateful for what he has done for the club. He has been an excellent loan signing," added Parkinson.

Whelan joined on loan from Middlesbrough two weeks ago and went off with a foot injury in Palace's recent defeat at Reading.

Trevor Francis said: "Noel Whelan's injury hasn't improved and we are a little concerned.

"He has already had one x-ray, but we are going to have to take him for another because the foot is still heavily swollen."

Johnson is ruled out for six weeks with a torn hamstring.

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