John McGreal believes the opportunity Colchester United continue to give to young players can help them snap up more talent.

The U’s have fielded five of their home-grown youngsters in each of their last two League Two fixtures, along with loanees like Ryan Inniss and Brandon Comley.

Colchester brought in young players from the likes of Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Charlton Athletic, in the last transfer window.

And ahead of the window reopening again next month, head coach McGreal says the club’s reputation for giving young players a chance to shine can go in their favour.

McGreal said: “It’s a club of opportunity.

“I’ve been given a great opportunity to run a football club and (assistant manager) Steve Ball is exactly the same.

“I think the players know that too and I think that’s why we can try and entice those better players from good academy levels to try and learn the trade.

“We’ve had five players from our academy who have been starting and it’s a credit to the football club how we want to do things.

“Having 50 per cent of our outfield players as home grown is quite a big number.

“We’re not getting away from it and they’re now starting to sing songs about our own players, which is fantastic.

“We have one player whose stats are off the scale at the minute in Sammie Szmodics getting attention for what he’s doing on the pitch and it’s fantastic.

“Players want to come and be part of it and play consistently well.

“It’s a credit to the boys with the environment they create and there aren’t cliques all over the place – it’s together and I think that’s been a part of the success.”

Colchester United are without a fixture this weekend, owing to their FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Oxford City last month.

The U's first team are next in action when they host promotion-chasing Exeter City at the Weston Homes Community Stadium on December 9, kick-off 3pm.