Colchester United had to fend off interest from bigger clubs this summer in order to keep captain Luke Prosser at the club.

The experienced defender put pen to paper on a new two-year contract with the U’s last month, keeping him at the JobServe Community Stadium until the summer of 2020.

Colchester head coach John McGreal admits it was pivotal they retained the services of Prosser, who impressed for them in the second half of last season after recovering from a long-term knee injury.

The former Southend United centre-back will lead the U’s into battle again in the 2018-19 campaign and boss McGreal is very glad to have him on board.

McGreal told the Daily Gazette: “Luke’s contract took a little bit more time – he’s just got married and had stag dos and such like but we’re absolutely delighted that he’s signed.

“It was pivotal for us that he stayed. I have a really good relationship with him, hence why I made him captain when he first came here.

“He’s been unfortunate with injuries but he did really well in the second half of the season to get himself back in the picture.

“A lot of clubs were after him, some bigger than us but he knows exactly what this club is about.

“He knows what we’ve been about in this division the last two seasons, which gives us that bit more knowledge about the division is like.”

Ryan Jackson also agreed a new two-year contract with Colchester earlier this summer, following a productive first season for the U’s after joining them last year from Gillingham.

“I’m delighted that Ryan has signed for another two years,” said McGreal.

“He had a terrific first season for us and for us to keep him is testament to what we’ve done.”

McGreal says new defensive signings Noah Chesmain and Aaron Barnes will get the chance to challenge for a place in his U’s starting line-up, this season.

Chesmain, 20, has arrived on a one-year deal from Championship club Millwall while 21-year-old Barnes joined Colchester from Charlton Athletic in January but spent the second half of last season on loan at Torquay United.

“Noah Chesmain will be part of the squad and also the under-23s and it’s the same for Aaron Barnes,” added McGreal.

“They can push for a first-team place and it’s why a lot of young players want to come to Colchester. You get an opportunity here if you work hard and that’s the challenge we’re throwing out to them.”