NEW Colchester United captain Harry Pell believes the club's talented youngsters must grab their opportunity with both hands.

Fledgling stars have been given a chance to shine following the summer exits of linchpins including Luke Prosser and Frank Nouble.

It means young guns like Noah Chilvers and Miquel Scarlett have been promoted up the pecking order by boss Steve Ball.

Now Pell believes they must seize their opportunities and points to the example of midfielder Kwame Poku.

“Some of the young lads need to understand how fortunate they are to be given this opportunity and they need to take it with both hands," he said.

“If they don’t, it’s very much a slippery slope.

“I could probably count on one hand the number of clubs who would give this opportunity to these young lads.

“The ones who are successful are the ones who are mentally strong, the ones who are prepared to commit themselves to do really, really well and, most of all, deal with the pressure of being a young lad coming into a men’s environment.

“The young lads need to have a look at Poku.

“He didn’t say boo to a goose and was a quiet lad but now he’s a voice in the changing room and has earned his stripes and the respect of the lads, the staff and the club.

“That’s what every single one of the young lads need to aspire to and hopefully they will move on because as a player, they need to be looking at the likes of (Sammie) Szmodics, Frankie Kent and Kane Vincent-Young.

"The club gave them a base to go and earn a lot of money and be really successful in the game."

Colchester head to Carlisle United today and will be keen to extend their unbeaten start to the League Two campaign.

They have won one and drawn four of their opening matches, sitting 11th in the table ahead of the long trip to Brunton Park.

Pell is happy with the start but believes there is always room for improvement.

He said: “Anything other than coming first is not in my make-up.

“And even if we’d come first and won promotion, I’d still dig out areas where I think we could improve.

“We have lost four very, very good players and there’s no hiding from that.

“We haven’t replaced those players but the reason why the chairman is probably a millionaire and I’m not is because he makes these decisions.

“I guess he’s had sleepless nights making these decisions, because I know how much he and the club thought of the four players."