Midfielder Ali Smith has joined League Two side Colchester United on loan until the end of the season.
The 24-year-old signed for the Imps in the summer from Sutton United, after an impressive two year stint in League Two. Despite playing 32 games over the first half of this campaign, he heads out on loan to Danny Cowley’s Colchester side, who will attempt to lift themselves away from a potential relegation battle in the second half of the season.
Smith hasn’t quite reached the levels that many thought he would reach when he signed for City in the summer. It’s clear the midfielder has talent, but a lack of games in his preferred midfield position hasn’t seen him go on a consistent run of form despite playing a number of games.
The departure leaves us with just three senior midfield players in Ethan Erhahon, Ethan Hamilton and Ted Bishop – that alongside Michael Skubala’s desire to add experience to the squad before the transfer window closes next week means we might see a more senior central player come into the club soon.
City’s director of football Jez George said: “This loan gives Ali the opportunity to get his season going by being first choice in his favoured position. All parties agree that it will benefit Ali to get a run of games so we have facilitated a loan that might also allow us to move in the last week of the transfer window if the right option becomes available.”
The deal suits all parties, as it allows Smith to develop away from the club in his preferred position, while also helping Colchester for the rest of this season and coming back to us stronger. A few months under the wing of the Cowley’s will be really beneficial for Smith and help his development going into the 2024/25 campaign – Skubala’s first pre-season at the club.
Smith signed a two year deal in the summer when he signed and let’s not forget we beat off interest from other big League One clubs to secure his signature. There is a player in there, and hopefully a loan move will bring the best out of him and potentially move him further up the pecking order when he returns to the club next season.