Lloyd Doyley has backed Colchester United to launch a League Two promotion push next season – and insists he has no regrets about his brief time there.
The experienced defender left the U’s last week, after they chose not to offer him new terms after his deal expired.
Doyley managed just three appearances during his eight-month spell at Colchester and had his season cut short by a calf injury he suffered, in February.
But while the former Watford stalwart admits it was a frustrating spell in his career, he says he has no qualms about his time at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
And Doyley believes John McGreal’s side can next season mount a serious challenge to return to League One.
Doyley told the Daily Gazette: “Colchester are on the up now.
“The last few seasons before this one have been awful for Colchester but finishing just outside the play-offs this season is good for them and something to build on.
“I think they can push for promotion, next season.
“There are a lot of players out of contract this summer there like Chris Porter and I think need to keep hold of people like that.
“They need to keep their best players and you rarely win a league which just youngsters.
“But if they keep players like that and add a few, then I think they have a chance.
“They’re developing more of their young players coming through and giving them a chance, which is not something I’ve had as much at other clubs I’ve been at in the past.
“The likes of Cameron James and Frankie Kent have a great career in front of them, as long as they concentrate and listen to the manager.
“There are no regrets - I got on very well with the boys and the manager at Colchester extremely well.
“They respected me and I respected them and I had a great time there.”
Doyley had to wait nearly a month to make his Colchester debut, starting in their 2-1 defeat at Plymouth Argyle last October.
But a knee injury sidelined him after that and his only other start came against Barnet, when he limped off with a calf injury after just 16 minutes.
“I felt when I went there I could have played a part, especially with my experience and with the achievements I already have in my career,” added Doyley.
“I’ve played almost 500 games in my career and fortunately, I’ve not had that many injuries, or as many as other players.
“I went to Colchester because I felt that we could get into the play-offs and it would have been nice to have played more games and help them to do that but it wasn’t to be.
“I ended up being a bit frustrated but that’s football and that’s life.
“When I was fit, I was on the bench because we were playing well and were in great form.
“That was understandable, because you don’t change a winning team.
“I don’t regret my time at Colchester – I got to meet some great people and I experienced the way the club was run.
“It’s just one of those things and now I’m just looking forward to getting some game time, next season.
“It’s too early to say where I’ll be next season as it’s only been a few days since I left Colchester but I’m sure that something will present itself.”