Under the stewardship of manager Colin Calderwood, Cambridge United have enjoyed a mixed start to their League Two campaign, with the Abbey Stadium side currently occupying 13th position in the table after notching up two wins, two draws and two losses in their first six games.
The summer transfer window brought about a host of changes to the U’s squad, with no less than 10 players leaving through the exit door, with a large portion leaving on free transfers upon expiry of their contracts.
These players were duly replaced by 12 incomings, most of which being at the younger end of the scale with youngsters Jack Roles (aged 20), Callum Burton (aged 22), Kyle Knoyle (aged 22), Andy Dallas (aged 20), Harvey Knibbs (aged 20) and Sam Smith (aged 21) all joining the squad from Tottenham, Hull City, Swindon Town, Aston Villa, Rangers and Reading respectively.
These additions along with Luke Hannant, Samir Carruthers and Dan Jones helped to bring the average age of the United squad down to 24.9.
However, despite a youthful approach to transfer targets this season, Calderwood has also looked to strengthen his forward line with the addition of 37-year-old striker Marc Richards, who joined on an initial six-month deal following his release from Swindon Town at the end of the 2018/2019 season.
Richards adds an abundance of Football League experience to a relatively young Cambridge squad, with the Wolverhampton born player having turned out for 12 different clubs throughout his career, with his most prolific spells coming at Port Vale and Northampton Town, who he scored 73 and 52 goals for in all competitions.
Along with Jabo Ibehre, Cambridge possess two of the most experienced forwards in the league and their tactical know-how and professionalism will no doubt prove vital in giving guidance to young strikers, Andy Dallas, Sam Smith and Andy Knibbs.
Richards has so far shown that he is not just at the club to make up the numbers, with the veteran frontman finding the back of the net three times in his first six games, including an impressive header against Colchester United in the U’s recent two-one away victory, with the striker displaying his aerial prowess to great effect.
United’s style of play suits Richard’s game perfectly, with the frontman lacking the pace he had in his younger years, he will be greatly relying on Cambridge’s tendencies to create opportunities through crosses as his biggest provider of goal scoring opportunities.
With the U’s operating in a classic 4-4-2 formation, Richards should thrive in a partnership up front which will allow him to hold the ball up and bring others into play.
And if the veteran can continue his goalscoring form, there is no reason why Cambridge can’t be in playoff contention come the business end of the season.