Kurtis Guthrie never doubted he would hit the goal trail again after scoring on his long-awaited return to Colchester United’s starting line-up – and has vowed to reach double figures by the end of the season.

Guthrie marked his first U’s league start in more than ten months with a long-range stunner in their 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Cheltenham Town.

The 24-year-old has managed just four substitute appearances for Colchester in League Two since suffering an ankle injury in their 2-1 win over Hartlepool United in February, 2017.

But having returned to the fray, the striker says he will not be giving up his starting place.

Guthrie said: “Whoever’s ahead of me won’t be there long because I’m looking to push on.

“As much as I want those boys to do well, first and foremost it’s my job to make sure I’m in the starting line-up every week and I keep in the goals.

“I’m hoping to end my season on double figures and do well for the team and for myself.

“When I scored, it was like normal progress had resumed for me.

“I got the monkey off my back early and now I’ll hopefully be able to score a few easier ones. It was aesthetically pleasing and I’ll take it.

“I was never worried about the goals because I thought that they would come very soon, as soon as I was mobile again.

"Thankfully, it didn’t take too long and after making my first start in a long time, I’ve announced myself again into the league that I’m ready.

“I’m ready to start climbing up the ladder with the team.

"My confidence hasn’t changed – it could be two weeks, ten months, 15 months or two years, it doesn’t matter to me.

“I know what I’m capable of and I’m trying to go and prove it in every game that I play.”

Guthrie refused to criticise team-mate Kyel Reid after his needless dismissal led to Colchester’s second-half capitulation against Cheltenham.

The U’s led through Guthrie’s strike when Reid struck out at the Robins’ Joe Morrell and was dismissed, leading to the visitors scoring four times after the break.

Guthrie said: “Kyel has been around and he’s an experienced pro but it happens in football.

“Everybody has a rush of blood and people do silly things. It was just a silly mistake and we won’t blame him.

“We had enough experienced players on the pitch to see the game out so I wouldn’t put too much pressure on Kyel.

“He’s a top guy and all he’s done since he’s come here is help, especially with the younger ones.

“I’d like to see Reidy here for the remainder of the season because he’s a fantastic player and brought a lot to us, both on the field and in the changing room.”