Surely only the most optimistic Colchester United fans would have predicted a few weeks ago that a win in their opening game of 2017 would elevate them into a top-eight position in League Two.

The U’s head into their home clash with high-flying Carlisle United on Saturday just two points off the play-off positions and their rapid transformation in form and results has been nothing short of remarkable.

Not so long ago, Colchester’s players trudged off the pitch at Huish Park having just conceded two goals to lose 2-1 at Yeovil Town, a defeat that extended their winless run to ten matches.

It was a truly painful loss and one that prompted forward Kurtis Guthrie to describe the players’ form as a shambles.

What a difference a few weeks makes; now Colchester are a free-scoring confident force, having won six of the seven games that have immediately followed that disappointing afternoon against the Glovers.

In most of the games within that unbeaten run, they have been dominant.

Setbacks in games have been few and far between.

And at Stevenage last Saturday they showed another trait they have developed within their new-found form – character.

Despite relinquishing a two-goal lead, the U’s demonstrated that they have enough spirit in their side now to overcome setbacks and recover from disappointments during games, something that was not evident last season.

That was helped by the impact of their substitutes and with the injury list now a little shorter than it was a few weeks ago, competition for places has increased.

That was only be enhanced by any additions made in this month’s transfer window and Colchester’s form has left them looking forward to the New Year with optimism, under a manager in John McGreal who has shown in his first few months as a Football League boss that he is a forward-thinking coach who is not afraid of making tough decisions, both tactically and in terms of personnel.

His nomination for the League Two manager of the month award for December is well deserved.

Each of the sides currently residing in the top-six positions still has to travel to the Weston Homes Community Stadium in the second half of the campaign, which promises to be a very exciting one for the U’s.

Carlisle will be the first of that six this weekend, where the U's excellent form promises to be given its toughest examination.

But given their performances and results over recent weeks, Colchester will be confident they can overcome any team that stands in their way.