MATT Jay admits it has been ‘mentally challenging’ finding himself out of favour at Colchester United.

But the 27-year-old attacker insists he still sees his future at the U’s and is determined to repay the club’s supporters and chairman, Robbie Cowling.

Jay made his first start in two and a half months and only his ninth since joining the club when he featured for Colchester in their Bristol Street Motors Trophy tie with West Ham United’s under-21s, on Tuesday night.

It was a rare appearance for the former Exeter City favourite, who has made just nine starts for the U’s.

READ MORE: Five observations from Colchester's defeat to West Ham under-21s

Jay’s game time was limited under previous head coach Ben Garner and he admits it has been a tough time.

He said: “It’s been difficult, because I haven’t really felt like I was going to play at all, even on the bench.

“I know that might sound a bit controversial but that’s where my season’s been.

“It’s been really tough, because it’s not been where I wanted to be or where I feel like I am.

“I never felt like I should have been disregarded.


“I don’t want to speak ill of the previous manager but we didn’t really see eye to eye I suppose and I think the team wasn’t doing so well and I still wasn’t been called upon.

“That was tough, because I felt ‘what more have I got to do?’.

“So, it’s been really low but luckily, I’ve been able to keep myself as positive as I can.

“I’ve been keeping really fit and I think if you ask people around the place, they’ll say chucking my toys out of the pram isn’t really what I’m about.

“I want to give the fans and the owner something back.

READ MORE: Matty Etherington's verdict on West Ham under-21 defeat

“I’m here for the long term in terms of my contract and if they want me, then I’ll be here.

“It’s not very easy to get yourself back at all actually, when you haven’t been playing.

“I haven’t been in this position for a number of years, probably only when I was coming through at Exeter and I was in and out.

“This has been a tough spell for myself and mentally, it’s been challenging.


“It was really nice to be out there; I’ve been keeping myself fit and I’ve been training really well.

“Hopefully the fans that came will have seen that I’m trying to do everything I can.

“I really want to do well here and try and help the team out.

“I know I’ve not been called upon too much but hopefully the gaffer knows that I’m ready.”

Jay joined Colchester from League One side Exeter City on a two-and-a-half year deal, last January.

He made more than 200 league and cup appearances for the Grecians, after starting his professional career at St James Park.

READ MORE: Colchester exit EFL Trophy to West Ham United under-21s

But he has struggled for game time after moving to North Essex and admits it has been a difficult time.

“It’s not been easy and we’re very much on our own, myself, my partner and my little boy,” said the Exeter promotion winner.

“We’re quite isolated but the club’s been really good.

“I do enjoy being here and that’s why it’s been so difficult, because it’s not as though I’ve been unhappy here.

“I enjoy going into training every day, the lads seem to like me and I like the lads and it’s just a good place to be.

Gazette: Matt Jay

“But it’s been tough and if I’m not getting the chances that I feel like I deserve and warrant, then we’ll have to look at another option perhaps.

“But I’m happy when I play and I felt really good out there (against West Ham under-21s) and played with a smile on my face.

“The support is there and hopefully I show that I give everything I can on the pitch.

“I want to do well; I love the club and that’s why I moved, because I felt like it was a really good opportunity for me and my family.

“I want to do well but I need a bit of a run and it’s very difficult to judge someone off one game.”

READ MORE: U's take a look at former Spurs and Huddersfield youngster

Jay has revealed he has spoken to Colchester boss Matty Etherington about the possibility of getting more game time.

“When the manager first came in, it was difficult for me to get in because the team were doing so well,” said Jay, who spent more than a decade with Exeter having made his professional debut for them back in September 2013 under former U's advisor, Paul Tisdale.

“Under the old manager Ben, it was slightly more difficult because we weren’t doing so well and I felt ‘what else can I do?’.

“But Matty has come in and has done really well up until this point which is a little bit of a sticky spell.


“He’s been great with me and I enjoy working for him.

“I think I show I give everything when I’m out there and I think it’s probably what we need, at the moment – we need a bit of character and knowhow for this league.

“Our relationship is good and I haven’t got a bad word to say about Matty.”

Jay looked bright for Colchester against West Ham under-21s, particularly in the first half.

He played for 77 minutes in the EFL Trophy tie, before being replaced by Chay Cooper.

He added: “I was really happy to play – it’s been a long time for me.

“I felt like I did pretty well in terms of some of the stuff on the ball and I managed to get around the pitch pretty well, considering I haven’t played for so long.

“So there were positives for myself but disappointed with the result and the team performance in the end.


“We’re under a bit of scrutiny and a bit of pressure and this is where we need leaders in inverted commas to help the young boys.

“We have a lot of good young players but players that aren’t consistent week in, week out.

“If they were consistent week in, week out then they probably wouldn’t be here and that’s the truth.

“We’re all going to have to come together and we need everyone.

“We were very disappointed with the result (against West Ham under-21s).

“At 1-0, we were probably quite happy with that but a poor goal to concede.

“I actually felt we had some quite good spells and on another day, Samson (Tovide) probably gets a penalty and it probably looks like a different game.

“We were just a little bit off it, especially in the second half.

“We came in at half-time still down but a little bit more upbeat but in the second half, it wasn’t where we wanted to be and they were poor goals again.

“I just felt we lost a little bit of concentration and thought.”