DILLON Barnes is on course to start the new season as Colchester United’s number one.

John McGreal has been impressed by the 22-year-old goalkeeper’s performances in pre-season so far, following on from his two League Two appearances at the end of last season.

And while the U’s boss has stressed that Barnes will be pushed by the likes of Rene Gilmartin and Ethan Ross to start their curtain-raiser at Notts County on August 4, he has revealed that Barnes will get his opportunity to shine and take over from Sam Walker who left the club this summer.

McGreal told the Daily Gazette: “If you look at the (squad) numbers, Dillon has got number one.

“I’ve had a good chat with him and he’ll be looking to start off number one.

“I’ve been really pleased with him in pre-season, at this moment in time.

“We asked everything of him last year and he did his minutes.

“We’re a club of opportunity and Dillon will definitely get his opportunity, along with Rene and Ethan and we still have Bailey (Vose), who’s playing for the under-23s at the minute.

“It’s those three who have been getting the minutes but there’s still more games to come in pre-season.

“But there’s no complacency on Dillon’s part – he’s got the number on his back but who’s to say that’s going to be the number one in the first starting XI.

“It’s up to Dillon, Rene and Ethan to keep pushing each other along.

“That’s what we need, that competition in training and that togetherness and camaraderie to get us results, this season.”

Colchester continue their pre-season preparations with a trip to play National League outfit Dagenham and Redbridge tonight (kick-off 7.30pm).

Daggers are now managed by former England under-21 boss Peter Taylor, who replaced John Still as manager last month.

“Dagenham will be a strong test for us – it’s a good game for us,” added McGreal.

“Peter has gone in there after Stilly left to go to Barnet, so we know that it will be a different type of game, I’m sure.

“But we will use this game to look at different systems and different personnel, as we will.

“It means different game time for each individual and it’s another local game like Braintree.

“We’ve developed strong links with Braintree and we know that with Dagenham, that could definitely be the same.”