Colchester United's game at fellow strugglers Walsall this Saturday has become their biggest of the season so far.

The U's will head to the Banks's Stadium level on points with the Saddlers in the League One table, with the two sides situated just two points above the relegation zone.

These are tough times for Colchester and their supporters.

But Joe Dunne’s reign is still very much in its embryonic stage.

He is adamant that his philosophy – and that of the club’s – will be borne out on the pitch in the long term.

Pulling away from trouble and getting back to winning ways is Colchester’s short-term aim, though.

And although the result went against them against Bournemouth last weekend, the U’s found enough positives from the performance to suggest that Dunne is correct in suggesting it was the first step back in their recovery.

Magnus Okuonghae’s suspension may well have forced Dunne’s in hand in handing loanee Josh Thompson his first U’s start alongside Tom Eastman at the heart of the Colchester defence.

Nevertheless, it is a partnership that showed considerable promise and one that might well serve the U’s well in the coming weeks, should Dunne elect to stick with it.

Thompson’s commanding display showed just why he was brought to the club from Portsmouth and on this evidence, Colchester will be glad they have extended his loan spell until the end of the month.

Indeed, the performances of John White and Michael Rose in the second half against the Cherries is likely to give Dunne a selection headache ahead of the Walsall game.

Just as encouraging was the form of winger Drey Wright, who shone as a second-half substitute against Bournemouth.

Dunne has so far been careful to protect the teenager and used him sparingly but Wright has so far shown enough to suggest that he has the potential to have an excellent career.

The return of skipper Kem Izzet and John-Joe O’Toole to the U’s midfield at Bournemouth also offered hope, as too did the manner in which Jabo Ibehre and Clinton Morrison linked up in the second half.

So while it is perhaps tempting to concentrate on the negatives when a team is struggling for results like Colchester currently are, there are still plenty of reasons for U’s fans to be cheerful in this season to be jolly.