IT is perhaps all too easy to take Tom Eastman's contribution at Colchester United for granted.

While the 27-year-old has been a popular and professional figure at the JobServe Community Stadium over the past eight years, the unassuming centre-back will naturally never be one to seek the limelight.

Nevertheless, the significance of today's news that the club's longest-serving current player has penned a new contract to stay at the U's for a further two years should not be underestimated.

It is to Eastman's credit that he has been remained at Colchester for so long - and played under so many regimes.

Signed by John Ward from neighbours Ipswich Town back in 2011, the Colchester-born centre-back has been a defensive mainstay under five different U's managers.

Eastman was not always a first-choice under U's boss John McGreal, last season.

But the three-time U's Player of the Year, has always been a model professional, something that enabled him to effortlessly slot back into central defence for their vital final four games of the campaign after captain Luke Prosser was sidelined due to injury.

Colchester did not lose any of them, conceding only once in that time.

McGreal will certainly be glad to get Eastman back on board, as he builds towards the new League Two season.

The defender is one of only a few players who have been with the U's head coach for the entirety of his time in charge - and there is a reason for that.

He is a top defender at League Two level - he reads the game superbly, is dominant in the air, comfortable on the ball and more recently, has shown he can be a threat as an attacking force when the U's play with three centre-backs.

Perhaps the only thing that is lacking in Eastman's game is pace - but there have been plenty of world-class defenders in the history of the game who have lacked speed but have made up for it with their footballing intelligence.

In addition, Eastman is also dedicated, reliable and fully committed to the cause, qualities sometimes not always evident in every player in the modern game.

And with more than 300 U's appearances under his belt, he is now an experienced player at this level, something that is advantageous not only to him but also the likes of Frankie Kent and Ollie Kensdale around him.

At the age of 27, he has plenty more time to significantly add to that total.

By the time his new contract expires in two years' time, Eastman will be entitled to a testimonial at Colchester - when that day arrives, it will be richly deserved.