Frankie Kent has vowed to return stronger than ever next season after his six-month injury lay-off.

The 19-year-old centre-back is aiming to build up his fitness this summer, after sitting out more than half of the U’s campaign because of a knee injury.

Kent burst into the Colchester side in the opening weeks of the season, holding down a place in Tony Humes’ starting line-up.

But the former U’s academy player underwent surgery on a knee injury, at the end of last year.

And he suffered a setback on his return when he slipped in a training session, in March.

Kent missed the remainder of the campaign but he is edging towards fitness and a return to the Colchester squad, next season.

Kent said: “I just want to kick on in the summer and try and get as fit as I can before pre-season.

“I’m hoping there won’t be any restrictions and it’ll be a case of starting a new over the summer and coming back even stronger.

“The manager has told me to stay smiling, try and get through it and stay strong.

“I was really happy with how I was playing before the injury.

“But my last game was November 1, which was more than six months ago.

“It was very disappointing and I’ve obviously never had anything like this before in my short career.

“But that’s football and hopefully I’ve got a long time left in my career.”

Kent was a regular at Colchester’s home games during his long injury lay-off.

The former Arsenal junior says he benefited from watching the likes of Bongani Khumalo and Kaspars Gorkss in action.

“I went to all of the home games and tried to support the team as much as I could,” added Kent, who made his senior debut on the final day of the 2013-14 season.

“One thing that I’ve been able to do when I haven’t been playing is watch the centre-halves.

“It was good to watch people like Tom (Eastman), Bongani (Khumalo) and Kaspars (Gorkss).

“You can only learn from them and taking time out has helped me look back and see the things I can do better, to try and improve my game.”

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