Colchester United will take the unusual step of staying overnight for a friendly match when they play Dover Athletic this evening.

The U’s continue their pre-season preparations with a trip to Kent to play their Conference Premier opponents, at the Crabble Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm).

And they follow that up with a game at League Two outfit Dagenham and Redbridge tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Colchester boss Joe Dunne is keen to see his squad as united as possible, ahead of the new League One season starting on August 9.

And he views the back-to-back games as an ideal opportunity for his squad to bond further, with their curtain-raiser against Oldham Athletic little more than a fortnight away.

He said: “We’ll take everybody when we go to Dover and we’ll be staying overnight.

“It’s what I wanted to do - I wanted to test the character and psychology of staying overnight.

“When they go to Dover and they both go to Dagenham, they’ll both know the teams so it’ll be interesting to see how the other ones react.

“We’re trying to be as thorough in our preparation as we can.

“We want everybody to be together and you’ll see that when we play 90 minutes, they’ll be a whole team stripped on the bench.

“We have a small squad and whatever we do, we have to do tightly.”

Dunne is looking forward to his return to Dover, for whom he played 11 times before rejoining the U’s in 1999.

“It’s a good club with a very good, big pitch,” said the U’s boss.

“I absolutely loved it there and they have good people there and good fans.”

Colchester will be without Alex Gilbey and Dan Holman is also a doubt, ahead of the two friendlies.

Both players were forced off at half-time after picking up knocks during the first half of the U’s 3-0 pre-season friendly defeat at the hands of Ipswich Town, on Wednesday night.

Dunne said: “Alex has got a pretty bad gash on his shin that needing stitching and we didn’t want to take any risks.

“It was a shame, because Alex and Dan were very good and the changes we had to make at half-time kind of upset us a bit.”

Marcus Bean, Jabo Ibehre and Sanchez Watt are unlikely to feature against Dover or Dagenham, as they recover from their respective injuries.

But former Newcastle United star Darren Ambrose could be handed another chance to impress, after featuring for Colchester against Ipswich.

For all of the latest Colchester United news, see the Daily Gazette.