John McGreal admits Drey Wright’s decision to join St Johnstone has hit Colchester United in the pocket.

The 23-year-old, who was out of contract this summer and turned down the chance to remain at the JobServe Community Stadium, quit the U’s after six years in their first team to join the Scottish Premiership club on a two-year deal.

Wright linked up with his new St Johnstone team-mates for the first time this week and suggested in an interview that Colchester had been seeking a fee, believed to be a six-figure sum, for his services.

However, the winger’s decision to move to Scotland, where clubs avoid paying a fee to English clubs for players under the age of 24, meant he moved for nothing, leaving the U’s empty handed.

McGreal told the Daily Gazette: “It was unfortunate to lose Drey but he decided to move on.

“When I took over he wasn’t really going anywhere but since then, he played a large number of games and everyone got to see his talent.

“He’s decided to move onto pastures new and we wish him all the best.

“It’s cost the club in that we won’t receive any compensation for him moving up to Scotland.

“We really wanted him to stay but Dicko (Brennan Dickenson) is a ready-made replacement for him and we’ve missed his goals and his creativity, last season.

“When everyone was away at the end of last season in May, he was still at the training ground getting himself ready for pre-season.

“He will be huge for us, next season as will Courtney Senior, Aaron Collins and Ryan Gondoh in those positions.”

Colchester's first pre-season friendly of the summer at Bostik League division north club Maldon and Tiptree on July 7 will now kick off at 1pm, owing to the World Cup quarter-finals taking place on the same afternoon.