JOHN McGreal believes Colchester United face their hardest game of the season so far today when they host in-form Tranmere Rovers.

But the U’s head coach is backing his play-off-chasing side to rise to the occasion – and has called for his ‘big players’ to produce a good performance.

Colchester lie a point off the League Two play-off places following two successive 3-0 defeats and have won only one of their last six matches.

In contrast, fifth-placed Tranmere are in electric form and have won each of their last five games.

McGreal admits his former club will provide a stern test for his side – but is adamant they can make home advantage count.

He said: “We’re looking for our big players to put in a good performance.

“We’re at home and we fancy ourselves against anyone there, so we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re a different animal at home – our last performance there wasn’t good (against Forest Green).

"But we’ve gone from being the best team in the division in Newport to one of the worst in Forest Green from an outside perspective.

“But inside, we just try and keep a level and doing the best things that we can do.

“We’ve been in and around it all season and the boys have done a tremendous job to keep themselves in it.

“We’ve dropped out of it by a point but there’s still a lot of points to play for with a lot of teams playing each other, as we are.

“We’re in confident mood and it’s everything we play for, because three points is big at this time of year.

“Tranmere have gone on a great run and they’re the form team.

“This is going to be our hardest game of the season, just because of the form that Tranmere have been in, of late.

“We know that we’re going to be up against it even though we’re at home, because I’m sure they’re going to be in buoyant mood.

“They’re the form team but we’re great at home and we fancy ourselves.

“It’s going to be really tough but it should be an entertaining game and one we hope we will come out on top in.

“It’s a fantastic game for us, after what’s gone on.”

Ben Stevenson has trained this week and should shrug off a groin injury to play. And fellow midfielder Tom Lapslie has returned to training on grass, following his hamstring injury.

But Harry Pell, Brandon Comley and Louis Dunne all remain sidelined.