COLCHESTER United manager Joe Dunne wants Alex Gilbey to follow the examples of other U’s players who have moved to higher-placed clubs.

The 18-year-old has played in the U’s last five games and is likely to feature in their home game against Crawley Town at the Weston Homes Community Stadium today.

However, question marks remain over his longer-term future after he rejected a professional contract with the club.

Dunne has warned the young midfielder about the perils of an early move away, though.

He feels he would be better-placed staying at the U’s and gaining Football League experience rather than going to a higher-placed club where he could run the risk of struggling to break into their first-team and be left languishing in their reserves.

And Dunne pointed to previous U’s players who had bided their time in Essex, got games under their belts and used that to secure big-money moves.

He said: “There are some terrific examples of Colchester players who have done that.

“Mark Kinsella didn’t leave here until he was 24 and he ended up playing in World Cups.

“He is a great example in our coaching set-up who our young players can talk to now.

“Anthony Wordsworth was 24 before he went to Ipswich and he played more than 200 games, then there was Martin Grainger, Greg Halford, Lua Lua and George Elokobi.They all played and got the benefits of it.”

Dunne said the contract that Gilbey’s been offered is an ability-based one that is now handed to young players moving on from their initial development contracts.

Drey Wright and Tosin Olufemi have already signed, with pay increases coming after every ten games played and Dunne is hoping that Gilbey follows suit.

He added: “I’ve got no problem with Alex because he trains every day, he is totally committed once he pulls the shirt on and his attitude is great. He is concentrating on football and he is maturing as a player, but his focus should remain on football.

“The more you play the more you come to people’s attention.

“It makes sense because if you’re not on the pitch then you’re not in the shop window.

“I understand them wanting to be remunerated, but we feel we have put together a package that is correct based on what we can afford and they should just play games. Alex has so much potential and I just think he would be better if he stayed and played.”