NEW Colchester United signing Michael Fernandes will get an immediate chance to shine at first-team level after penning a two-year deal with the club.

The 19-year-old winger has started pre-season with the U’s senior squad, after joining the League Two side from non-league Farnborough.

Fernandes has caught the eye of several professional clubs with his dazzling displays, including Reading and Ipswich Town.

However, he has now committed his future to Colchester and head coach John McGreal says he will get a swift opportunity to stake a claim for a first-team spot.

McGreal told the Gazette: “Michael is a little more advanced than some, because he’s had that non-league game time.

“He was at Ipswich last year and they really liked him but they couldn’t get a deal quite right.

“They invited him back in into the summer but we already had our eye on him and did quite a number of match reports.

“For one reason or another we couldn’t get him into the building but I’ve had a look at him myself and he’s a winger who can drop in with pace and run in behind.

“He can also get on the ball himself and have a go at defenders and he’s fearless in taking defenders on, which is what we’re looking for at the football club.

“He’s 19 years old but he’s had a lot of good game time already in the non-league.

“He’s one that we’re looking to try and get into the first-team environment straight away and see where the opportunity takes him.”

Colchester have been back in pre-season training since last Wednesday.

They are currently gearing for their first pre-season friendly, which is at Isthmian Premier new boys Bowers and Pitsea on Friday night.

“The boys have had a fair bit of time off,” said McGreal.

“We’d have liked last season to have gone on a bit longer but it wasn’t to be and we’re hoping that we can try and go one better, this year.

“But it’s always nice to see the boys come back and it’s our job and our living.

“There’s a noise already, which is good.

“I haven’t changed the pre-season routine.

“It’s gone well and we have some really good fixtures to look forward too as well.

“The first day is not always the best because it’s all to do with fitness and seeing what levels the boys are up to and the work that they’ve been doing on the off season.

“That’s all been documented with the sport science.”