Cole Kpekawa has vowed to stay professional and keep working hard after finding himself out of favour at Colchester United.

The 21-year-old defender has not featured for the U’s first team since mid-October and has made only two league starts for John McGreal’s side since joining them from Championship club Barnsley, in the summer.

Kpekawa has not even been among Colchester’s substitutes for their last seven league games, after finding it hard to break into a defence that has kept four clean sheets in their last seven League Two games.

The former QPR youngster admits it is tough being out of the team but he is determined to remain positive – and be ready to impress when he is called upon.

Kpekawa told the Daily Gazette: “It’s difficult not playing and it plays with your head a little bit.

“But all you can do is stay professional, keep working hard and football changes very quickly.

“I’m not one to let things get to me – I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and I know that I’m good enough to play higher than this league, so I’ll just keep being professional and keep working hard.

“Hopefully that will then show and you get a chance and when you get that chance, keep it.

“It’s down to the manager at the end of the day and the team is doing well – we’ve been winning games and not been conceding much so I just have to be patient.

“The team is doing well and everyone’s buzzing at the club – we’re in good form.

“Hopefully things will change for myself.”

Kpekawa spent the final six months of last season on the sidelines, having found himself out of the picture at Barnsley.

His lack of action at Oakwell set his pre-season fitness back but he insists he is now fully fit, when called upon.

“I’m ready to play,” said Kpekawa, who played for Colchester in their 7-1 win at Brentwood Town in the Essex Senior Cup last Thursday night.

“When I first came to Colchester, I hadn’t had a good pre-season at Barnsley and I was doing a little bit of catch up but now I’m ready to go and fully fit and when the gaffer needs me, I’ll be ready.

“I think we’ve got a good chance of getting promoted this season, so hopefully I can be a part of that.

“There’s a long way to go and still a lot of games to play so hopefully within the next few weeks, I can get myself back in the team.

“We’ve got games coming thick and fast with Christmas coming up and we have a big squad, so hopefully the gaffer uses that and gives me a chance.”