Nicke Kabamba has been challenged to seize his opportunities when they come along following the striker’s lack of first-team action for Colchester United.

The 24-year-old striker has managed just three starts and five substitute appearances since joining the U’s on loan from League One side Portsmouth shortly before the transfer deadline and has not made John McGreal’s starting line-up since mid-September.

Kabamba is still looking for his first goal for Colchester and Pompey boss Kenny Jackett this week admitted the forward was “frustrated” with his lack of minutes for the League Two club.

McGreal says he has spoken to the former Hampton and Richmond Borough player about his situation – and the U’s head coach has urged him to make the most of any chances that come his way.

McGreal said: “I’ve had a chat with Nicke and I know he’s looking for minutes.

“He’s had opportunities especially when he first came in.

“We’ve made changes since the Cheltenham game and gone with a different pairing and touch wood, that pairing has been very good for us.

“It’s a case of a little bit of patience with Nicke and taking the opportunity when it knocks.

“When you get little bits of opportunity even in those cameo appearances, you have to do something different to change decisions in a way because for the football club to try and keep moving forward we want that healthy competition.

“On performances, we want the starting XI to be on the bit and if that means the likes of Nicke and Sanmi (Odelusi) aren't playing, then we have to do that to get points on the board and take us to where we want to be.”

Colchester will be without Tom Lapslie for their home clash with Crewe Alexandra tomorrow.

The U’s midfielder will serve a one-match suspension after being sent off in the U’s 0-0 draw with Coventry City, last weekend.

Craig Slater is in the running to replace Lapslie, after coming on for the final 12 minutes plus stoppage time at Coventry.

The Scotland under-21 international has missed a large chunk of the season because of a hip problem but has been named on the bench in the U’s last five games.

McGreal said: “Craig has missed a lot of games and a lot of training time.

“We were talking of him needing an operation not so long ago but the injection seems to have cleared it up.

“He’s had a good 10-12 days of training behind him and he’s been building it up and he’s getting fitter and fitter.”

Doug Loft is hoping to be fit for the Alex game having missed his side’s draw at the Ricoh Arena with a hamstring injury that forced him off during the 2-1 win at Newport County, last week.

The former Gillingham and Port Vale man trained yesterday but will be assessed ahead of the game.

Kyel Reid is definitely available for selection having missed Colchester’s game with his parent club Coventry but Kurtis Guthrie, Brennan Dickenson, Luke Prosser and Sammie Szmodics are all sidelined.