Joe Dunne has labelled Colchester United’s relegation showdown with Tranmere Rovers as a “season-defining” game.

The U’s boss admits careers are on the line, ahead of a crucial run of matches which promises to decide their fate.

Colchester head into tomorrow’s crunch home game with fellow strugglers Tranmere just three points above the League One drop zone, following three straight defeats.

And Dunne has stressed that now is the time for his players to stand up and be counted.

Dunne said: “This is now the moment - the Tranmere game has become a real season-definer, if you like.

“We’re playing teams who stand in the way of our progression.

“I’ve asked my players what they’re going to do to follow their dream.

“Do you want to be a League Two player or a League One player? That’s what it is.

“It’s in the ring and they’re facing somebody who is in the way of them progressing in their career.

“You can stay and move up - or you can start from the bottom again.

“Where do you want to be, because that’s what it comes down to and who wants it more, because it’s a street fight and the gloves are off."

For a full preview of Colchester's game against Tranmere Rovers, including interviews with Joe Dunne and ex-U's skipper Kem Izzet, see Friday's Daily Gazette.