Alex Gilbey has admitted he was left “devastated” by Joe Dunne’s surprise departure as Colchester United manager.

But the U’s teenage midfielder says he could not have wished for a better scenario than the appointment of Tony Humes as Dunne’s successor.

Gilbey, 19, helped Humes claim a point in his first game as Colchester’s new boss, following their 0-0 draw at Walsall.

But the young midfielder revealed that he has contacted Dunne to thank him for everything he has done for him.

Gilbey was handed his senior debut by Dunne in December 2012 and went on become a regular under the Irishman.

He said: “Joe showed a lot of faith in me as a young lad.

“I got on well with him off the pitch and I knew him for a long time.

“I found out through Twitter – it was devastating to hear.

“I took it hard personally - I was in shock about it as were the squad and there were a lot of gutted players but that’s the way it works in football.

“I’ve text Joe and wished him all the best.

“I thanked him for everything he’s done for me, as he was a big influence on me both on and off the pitch.

“I’ve wished him all the best for the future and I’m sure he’ll get a good job, because he’s a good manager.

“We had a good togetherness in the squad and to see our leader go is a lot to take but we just get on with it.”

While Gilbey was disappointed to see Dunne go he is now looking forward to working under Humes, who played a significant role in the midfielder’s progression in the U’s academy.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better appointment if I’m honest because I was with Tony and Richard (Hall) in the youth team,” said Gilbey.

“They were the ones who signed me so it’s good to work under them again.

“They’re easy to work with and they know me inside out, like I know them.

“I think we’ll start working more on how Tony and Richard like to play this week and see a lot of changes, I think.

“This point (at Walsall) is big for us though and hopefully now we can go on and build on it.

“We thought the first win was coming but we’re happy with the point and the clean sheet.

"I’m very confident we can move up the table now.”

For five pages of coverage of the U's game at Walsall, including a full match report, pictures, analysis and reaction, see Monday's Daily Gazette.