John McGreal believes Colchester United have signed one of League Two's leading midfielders in Harry Pell.

Pell became the U's first summer signing in May when he joined them for an undisclosed fee from Cheltenham Town.

The 26-year-old has more than 300 league and cup career appearances under his belt and in Pell and fellow new boy Frank Nouble, boss McGreal feels Colchester have signed two seasoned performers in the fourth tier.

McGreal said: “In Harry, we feel that we’ve signed one of the best central midfielders in the division, if not the division above.

“That has shown when you look at the fact that clubs like Blackpool have been in for him.

“We have smaller players in that midfield and he gives that little bit more presence in there and the boy can score goals, too.

“Both Harry and Frank (Nouble) are division two ready and they both strengthen the spine of our team.

“They both know about this division, which is important.

“Frank is only 26 but he’s played a lot of games and we had to fend off a lot of competition from other clubs to get him.

“There were quite a few clubs who were in for him.

“Centre forward was an area we were looking to improve.

“He had a very good season for Newport last year, playing in a wide position at times."

Meanwhile, boss McGreal says Sammie Szmodics is desperate to hit the goal trail again for Colchester, this season.

The 22-year-old finished as the U's top scorer last season with 13 goals, with his superb form at the end of 2017 attracting interest from bigger clubs.

McGreal added: “People tend to forget about Sam.

“He has shown that he can score goals and he’ll be chomping at the bit to do well for us, this season."

Colchester continue their preparations for the new season tonight when they travel to play National League new boys Braintree Town in their latest pre-season friendly (kick-off 7.45pm).