ROBBIE Cowling says he is delighted with the impact Colchester United’s youngsters have made this season.

But the U’s chairman is not resting on his laurels in his bid to see more home-grown players burst onto the scene.

Youth-team products such as Alex Gilbey, Sammie Szmodics and Macauley Bonne have shone for Colchester in League One this season.

And that has made Cowling even more determined to make the U’s an elite academy club.

The U’s supremo has confirmed to the Daily Gazette that he plans to launch a second bid to secure coveted Category Two status this season.

Cowling hopes to install a roof on their multi-purpose games area at Warriors Rest in Tiptree.

And if that is granted planning permission, Colchester’s talented crop of up-and-coming youngsters will have an even brighter future in store.

Cowling said: “The plan is to reapply for Category Two status again this season.

“We need to put a roof on our multi-use games facility in Tiptree.

“We’ve had to find the money for it and I’ve done that, so we’re now in the process of getting some quotes for the work.

“That has got to go through planning, and if we get it I think we’ll get Category Two status.

“We will have a fantastic facility, which will also be for community use.”

Earlier this year, Colchester failed in their first attempt to obtain Category Two status.

It would have given them financial support from the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and ensured they could compete with some of the best academies around.

Colchester fell just three per cent short of gaining the 65 per cent score needed in the EPPP process.

Last time around, the U’s scored lowest on productivity, which was based on their record between 1999 and 2011.

However, Cowling is hopeful the additional points they obtain in other areas such as facilities will tip the balance in their favour.

He added: “I don’t have any doubt that we’re on the right track and it’s nice to know that we’re doing it the right way.

“We have the set-up and we have the coaching, but we can also offer a really good pathway into the first team.

“A lot of other clubs can’t offer that.

“I don’t think that it’s too early to say that we’re seeing the rewards of what we’re trying to do as a football club.

“I actually get quite nervous when I see the young players go on!

“They have earned their chance and we’re not just throwing them in.

“It’s nice to see it happening in the first team and Joe Dunne deserves credit for putting them on.

“We’ve already been seeing it at under-18 and under-16 level.

“The under-18s have won 15 games in a row and the under-16s went to Nottingham Forest and won 3-0.

“Some of our even younger players are realising that they are maybe only a couple of years away from the first team and they’re certainly raising their game.”