DANNY Cowley believes Colchester United can show the level of progress they have made when they take on leaders Mansfield Town in a televised showdown.

The U's head to the One Call Stadium for tomorrow's lunchtime clash on the hunt for precious points, in their ongoing quest to avoid League Two relegation.

They face a Mansfield side who are sitting pretty at the top of the table and closing in on automatic promotion.

U's boss Cowley sees the game, which is being screened live on Sky Sports, as a chance to show how far they have come since the turn of the calendar year.

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Cowley said: “I think it’s just a great game for us, live on Sky.

“We feel like we’ve made good progress.

“We haven’t got the wins that we would have liked but we’re certainly a lot more competitive.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to show the rest of the world, or whoever’s watching, the progress we’ve made and exactly where we’re going, as a football club.

“No-one expects us to win, outside of this building.

“There’s a lot of respect for Nigel Clough and Mansfield Town but when you play the best teams, they give you instant feedback and you learn so much about your team, in those moments."

Gazette: Danny Cowley

Mansfield are five points clear at the top of the table, with Nigel Clough's side having lost only six league games all season.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Nigel Clough and Mansfield Town," said Cowley.

“They’re a really good club and they’ve got a really good playing squad – they’re a team of high quality.

“There’s lots of depth in that group and lots of experience and knowhow in the division, with lots of goal threat across the team and from set pieces with boys like Aden Flint at centre-half.

“There’s a lot to respect and a lot to admire.

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“They’re a team that has scored double the amount of any other team in the division, in the last ten games.

“We just see a wonderful challenge and a great opportunity.

“We believe that we’re becoming a well organised, competitive team.

“To beat Mansfield, you have to be at your organised best, with the ball and without the ball.

“If you can do that, then maybe we can cause an upset.

“We know we’re making progress, we know we’re working relentlessly hard and moving in the right direction.

“Saturday is a good opportunity just to show whoever’s watching exactly how much progress we’ve made as a team and the direction we’re going in."