NEW Colchester United head coach Steve Ball says his players are raring to go again after returning for pre-season.

The U's squad were back at their Florence Park training ground yesterday for their first day of preparation for the upcoming League Two season, which kicks off on September 12.

Ball took his squad for the first time since succeeding John McGreal in the U's hot seat, last week.

And the new Colchester boss says his players are hungry to get going, ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

Ball said: "The players are in brilliant spirits.

"It's felt a bit weird because we've had this sort of staggered break.

"We had the break between March to June because of Covid and coming back in June doesn't feel that long ago!

"It definitely didn't feel like a proper first day of pre-season where you're normally back in from a nine-week break.

"It's felt a little bit like I've just seen the guys and they're all in really good nick, which is really positive.

"They've all been following their programmes and because of the disrupted end to last season, I think they're really hungry to get back into it straight away."

Colchester will be hoping to improve on last season, when they suffered an agonising play-off semi-final defeat at the hands of Exeter City.

"For everybody who was involved with that night at Exeter, the seven or eight-hour journey home and everything about the whole night, it was a huge disappointment to come so far and to just miss out on getting to Wembley," said Ball.

"In some ways, we had to wait until today (Monday) to get a bit of closure on that.

"It didn't get mentioned and all we want to do is go one step further.

"Hopefully that experience will stand us in good stead for this season where hopefully we can use that disappointment to fuel our position."

Colchester's players and staff are having to follow all the current Covid-19 social distancing guidelines at Florence Park, after returning to training.

Groups were limited to five or six players and separate sessions took place across the day.

Ball added: "Since the announcement, we've had some really positive meetings with the support team and lots of discussions.

"But to be back out on the grass is where I want to be and it's great to be back out there.

"We had the isolated training in the lead up to the play-offs so it's not brand new to me or the players.

"I can't deny, it's not ideal and it's not what you want - you want your contact training to start as soon as possible.

"But I think we're hoping to get that in by the end of the week.

"There may be one or two more days of the isolation stuff and then take it into the contact."