When Colchester United manager Joe Dunne spoke about the importance of mental strength last week, he identified an area of professional football that is often neglected.

Sports psychology is hardly a new concept.

Yet it is one that is seldom measured in the same way as more tangible elements of the game, such as the number of goals scored and conceded.

Of course, some coaches place more emphasis on this area than others; often it is a matter of personal preference.

But the news that one of the game’s most experienced bosses, England manager Roy Hodgson, will use a sports psychologist, Dr Steve Peters, at the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil, perhaps offers further evidence that it is a concept that simply cannot be ignored.

When Dunne referred to his U’s players needing a certain level of self-confidence and belief in order to play in certain environments, some took it as a dig at the sparse number of empty seats at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

But the Colchester manager’s comments were less about the U’s home ground and much more about the character of individuals in his team.

For Dunne, it is about how they deal with pressure in any atmosphere.

“What I was talking about was the mindset of my players, whether the stadium is empty or full,” said Dunne.

One glance at Colchester’s results this season - and the manner in which they have come about - offers firm evidence of how influential confidence can be.

Freddie Sears’ early goal against Coventry City set the U’s on their way to their ninth victory in League One this season – and all nine of them have come after they have taken the lead.

Conversely, of the 12 league matches that Colchester have lost, they have conceded first in all but two of them.

The margin between winning and losing in football is slender; indeed, around a third of the U’s games have been decided by a single goal.

So it’s hardly a surprise that the significance of adopting the correct mindset has not been lost on Dunne.

With Colchester’s hectic schedule continuing for some time to come, mental strength is something that could prove crucial in the coming weeks.