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Colchester United plotting return to League One at third attempt

Picture Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD, Football, EFL Sky Bet League Two, Mansfield Town v Colchester United, One Call Stadium, 10/03/18, K.O 3pm''Mansfield's Joel Byrom battles with Colchester's Tom Lapslie''Andrew Roe>>>>>>>07826527594
Picture Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD, Football, EFL Sky Bet League Two, Mansfield Town v Colchester United, One Call Stadium, 10/03/18, K.O 3pm''Mansfield's Joel Byrom battles with Colchester's Tom Lapslie''Andrew Roe>>>>>>>07826527594

Saturday’s visitors to the One Call Stadium, Colchester United, have high hopes of a return to League One this season at the third attempt.

Stags boss David Flitcroft has already tipped them to be among the promotion contenders.

John McGreal’s men finished 13 points adrift of the play-off positions last season after a disappointing finish but have recruited well this summer, bringing in Harry Pell, Luke Norris and Frank Nouble in addition to Aaron Collins on loan from Wolves.

The U’s have since made a promising start to the new League Two campaign, following up their promising opening-day 0-0 draw at much-fancied Notts County with an impressive 2-0 home win over Port Vale, last weekend.

They played well on both occasions and have looked solid in all areas, so far.

This is McGreal’s third season in charge of Colchester’s first team, having been promoted into the hot seat from his academy role in 2016.

He guided Colchester to a finish just a point off the play-off positions in his first season in charge but was unable to go one better last season, as Colchester finished 13th.

McGreal has shown his tactical competence by adopting different formations and systems depending on the opposition and whether Colchester are playing at home or away.

He likes his team to pass the ball and attack their opponents and his methods are popular among the players.

United’s star man continues to be Sammie Szmodics – a talented home-grown attacker who has been at the club since the age of seven and has risen through the U’s academy ranks.

His goals in the first half of last season saw him linked with a number of clubs in the January window including Premier League Bournemouth but a move did not materialise.

Szmodics finished as Colchester’s top scorer last season with 12 goals.

Stags must also watch out for Courtney Senior – a skilful young winger who loves running at defenders with his quick footwork and dazzling play. Senior scored Colchester’s opener in their win over Port Vale last weekend and is the kind of player who gets the fans on their feet.

Colchester have no major injury or suspension issues heading into the game.

Luke Norris is lacking match practice but aside from that, they have a fully fit squad at the moment.

Despite the high standard of their performance at Notts County, U’s boss John McGreal made changes to both starting line-up and formation against Port Vale, switching to four at the back and bringing Kane Vincent-Young and Courtney Senior into the side and could easily revert back to the side and formation that started at Meadow Lane.

Probable starting line-up: Barnes, Eastman, Prosser, Kent, Jackson, Lapslie, Pell, Vincent-Young, Szmodics, Dickenson, Nouble.