Alex Gilbey insists he is putting any contract talk to one side as he battles to keep Colchester United in League One.

But U’s boss Kevin Keen admits the talented midfielder is unlikely to remain at the Weston Homes Community Stadium past this season.

Gilbey is due to become a free agent at the end of the current League One campaign and has been offered a fresh deal by Colchester.

However, the former U’s youth-team skipper is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract – and Keen says it is doubtful he will.

Keen said: “Alex loves the club and has been a big part of it over the last few years.

“I doubt very much that he’ll sign his contract but at the same time, because of that love of the club, I have no doubts over involving him and playing him because he wants the club to do as well as possible.”

Gilbey says he is not thinking about his future past this season – and is determined to help Colchester build on their midweek win at Bradford City with another victory at Port Vale tomorrow.

“I’m just focusing on my football – I’ll let my agent and the club talk,” said the former Gilberd School pupil, who was outstanding in the U’s 2-1 win at Bradford after appearing as a first-half substitute at Valley Parade.

“I’ll just put that to the back of my mind and worry about that when it comes to it.

“My main focus is to play well and keep Colchester in the league.

“There are 12 cup finals between now and the end of the season and we’ll be looking for maximum points in every game we play, so I’ll leave any contract stuff until the summer.

“No-one wants to get relegated, no matter who you play for and especially for me playing for Colchester - it’s the last thing I’d ever want for this club.”

Gilbey returned for Colchester at Bradford following a four-match absence, having served a suspension following his red card in the Essex derby at Southend United and then being laid low by illness.

The 21-year-old admits his dismissal for a foul on Blues’ Ryan Leonard was “the worst moment of his career”.

He added: “It was great to come back and help the team win at Bradford and it had been a long time coming.

“Before I got suspended, I was playing well and enjoying my football.

“It was a mistake and a bad tackle but these are the things I have to learn from and make sure they don’t happen again.

“It was the worst moment of my career – I let the lads and the fans down and I knew that when I got my chance I would take it and help us to a win.”

For a three-page preview of the U's game at Port Vale, see Monday's Daily Gazette.