CHAY Cooper says playing and training alongside Colchester United’s experienced players is helping to bring out the best in him.

The 20-year-old has broken into the U’s first-team squad and has featured in their last two senior games.

Cooper, who joined Colchester in September following his release by Spurs, is hoping to be involved when the U’s visit Stevenage in League Two tomorrow.

And having been rubbing shoulders with the likes of fellow midfielders Cole Skuse and Alan Judge since joining the U’s, he is enjoying being involved with the senior side.

Cooper said: “It’s massive to have players like Skusey and Judgey around for everyone.

“They talk to you and let you know what you’re doing well and what you need to do better.

“I think as a result, my communication with the 23s has got a lot better; you set your standards higher and it brings the best out of you, on and off the pitch.

“The intensity of first-team training is a lot tougher and quicker.

“It’s up to me to maintain the standard.

“The gaffer has let me train with the first team a few times and must think I’ve trained fairly well.

“The boys have let me settle into the team very well.

“The gaffer has given me a few chances and I’m thankful for that.

“I’ve learned so much from that and obviously missing the penalty in the (Ipswich) game was such a massive learning curve.

“Hopefully, I can just keep training, keeping kicking on, keeping doing well with the 23s and then hopefully, more chances to come.

“There’s a lot more to achieve, this season and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”


Cooper has featured regularly for Colchester’s under-23 side since joining them, earlier this season.

The former Southend United academy player, who can operate on either flank or as a central midfield player, played in the U’s Premier League Cup draw with Fulham in midweek.

He said: “At Tottenham, I didn’t get much game time but since I came to Colchester even on trial, I’ve had a lot of game time with the 23s.

“That gets the best out of me and when I’m playing a lot, it’s really good.

“I enjoy it with the 23s and I’ve got the same mentality as the one I have when I’m with the first team.

“I just want to play football and if I get the chance with the first team, it gets me ready whereas if you’re just training and not playing games, you’re not match fit.

“I was at Spurs for five years; it was very tough to leave.

“I had a lot of friends there, a lot of coaches who helped me develop there.

“But I was at Southend before that so I knew this level albeit a different age and I knew (U’s academy manager) Dave (Huzzey) from Southend, too.

“That’s the main thing with football; you’re going to get different managers and play in different teams and it’s just about adapting.

“I feel like the staff and the players here have really helped me settle into the environment at Colchester.”


Cooper, who has made three first-team appearances for Colchester to date, felt they performed well in their Premier League Cup game against Fulham.

The U’s youngsters battled hard against their Category One opponents, who had previously won their last seven matches.

He said: “A Cat One team like Fulham are very technical and we got told before the game that if we bring that physical battle and competitiveness, then we can get a result from the game.

“I thought we did that and on and off the ball, we worked hard.

“We had battles all over the pitch and it was a hard-earned point.

“At times, we probably could have won the game and it was a really good team performance.

“We knew that they would be on top and have more of the ball but when maybe times got tough, we stuck in there, held on and created chances ourselves down the other end.

“From that, we bounced back and stayed in the game.”