YOU know you've been at a football club for a long time when you end up facing a team managed by one of your former team-mates.

That will be the case for Colchester United’s long-serving defender Tom Eastman when they travel to play Exeter City, now managed by former U’s loanee Matt Taylor.

Not that the pair crossed paths too often in Taylor’s brief loan spell at the JobServe Community Stadium, during the 2013-14 League One season.

“I think I was injured at the time Matt came in,” said Eastman, who was joined at the U’s by Taylor for a month following his loan move from Bradford City.

“I never played alongside him or trained with him but I saw him around the dressing room.

“He was a good professional and I’m looking forward to seeing him.

“He’s having a good season at Exeter and has obviously picked up where Paul Tisdale left off down there, so it’ll be a tough game.”

Eastman will be hoping to help Colchester boost their play-off hopes tomorrow against an Exeter side with similar aspirations, this season.

The seventh-placed U’s sit two points and two places ahead of the Grecians in the table, ahead of the key clash at St James Park.

“We’ve got nine games left and we have a tough game to prepare for against Exeter who are in and around the play-offs like us,” said Eastman, who has made more than 300 appearances for Colchester since joining them from Ipswich Town, in 2011.

“We’ve got a really good chance of getting into the play-offs and we’ve put ourselves in a really good position.

“In our first season in League Two, we finished a point off in the end which was a bit frustrating.

“We have to aim for better than that and we have to get a good run going.

“We know what we have to do and it’s all in our hands.

“If we beat Exeter, then we’re more than three points clear of them.

“All season, we’ve shown that when we’re on it we’re a great team.

“We know if we perform well between now and the end of the season, we’ll definitely be in the play-offs.

“That’s what we have to keep doing and playing to our ability.

“Now it’s a nine-game mini-season.

“We haven’t really put a long run of wins together this season so if we can do that throughout the last nine games, we’ll put ourselves in a strong position.

“That’s probably why we’re seventh and not higher because we have been a bit inconsistent and not had those winning runs.

“Tranmere have had a run of six wins out of seven I think and are looking really good, so that’s what we have to try and do.

“Apart from maybe Lincoln and Bury at the top, all of the other teams near the top have had dips.”

Eastman returned to Colchester’s starting line-up for their 3-0 win over Newport County, last weekend.

The 27-year-old has found himself on the bench on occasions this season and admits it has been a somewhat unusual experience.

“It’s been a bit different for myself,” added Colchester’s three-time Player of the Year.

“I’d have liked to have played more games and it’s probably the first season where I haven’t really been a mainstay in the team.

“It’s a bit frustrating but when I get in the team, I have to try and put in good performances to try and stay there.

“I’m quite experienced and I know that I will be needed at times throughout the season and when I am, I know I have to put in a performance for the team.

“I’m hoping to start again on Saturday and help the team get a better result.”