COLCHESTER United will continue to reward their high-performing players with new contracts - but only when the time is right.

That is the view of U's head coach John McGreal, after talented teenage Kwame Poku landed a new two-and-a-half year deal at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Poku has burst onto the scene in the first half of the League Two season, impressing with his eye-catching attacking performances.

The 18-year-old's form has earned him a new contract and boss McGreal says that more of their players will be rewarded - provided they keep their standards high.

McGreal said: “I heard (Glasgow Rangers manager) Steven Gerrard talking the other week about players deserving contracts, not only when they’re up but also when they’re in that good form.

“It also has to be when the club feel that it’s the right time for that player to get it.

“I don’t think we’re any different and the boys get well rewarded with the contracts that they get.

“But we need to keep performing to a good, high, decent level."

McGreal has praised midfielder Harry Pell after he marked his first 90 minutes of the season with a vital winning goal.

Pell, who missed much of the opening three months of the season due to a Achilles injury, found the net in stoppage-time to seal victory for the U's 1-0 win over Salford City.

“He’s a trier – that’s what you get from Harry and he’s got a huge, huge personality," said McGreal.

“He’s gone through the mill with his injuries and at the minute, he’s still finding his feet.

"He needs those 90-minute games and playing time, because he was a huge and important player for us last season."

McGreal has also hailed the impact of reliable defender Tom Eastman, after he played his part in helping Colchester keep a tenth clean sheet of the season last weekend.

The long-serving centre-back was shortlisted for the League Two player of the month award for November last week, following his excellent form over recent months.

“I tend to run out of words to say about Tom because we tend to cover him every other month, whether it’s an award nomination, his appearances, his performances or his goals," added McGreal.

“He’s given the club a real good, strong, consistent level of football this season, which he tends to do every season which is why he always tends to be in the main running for a Player of the Year award.

“It’s amazing how he hasn’t been able to move onto different levels – I don’t know why that hasn’t worked and whether he’s quite happy where he is.

“But we’re delighted to have him and it’s his consistency in his performances."