SAMMIE Szmodics believes competition for places in Colchester United's attacking unit will be just what they need this season.

And, with the strength in his squad that head coach John McGreal now has at his disposal, the 22-year-old former U's trainee feels a place in the League Two play-offs should be the very least of their ambitions this year.

Colchester conclude their pre-season games with a home fixture against Gillingham tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) and some encouraging summer performances suggest that the U's should be setting their sights high.

Szmodics scored in an impressive 2-1 win against Championship side Millwall on Tuesday to show McGreal his form, but he knows he will have to keep that up to make sure he stays a part of his boss' plans this season.

McGreal has added significant strength at the top end of the pitch, with the likes of Luke Norris and Frank Nouble coming in this summer, but Szmodics thinks it is good that players will have to be on their toes to keep their places.

“The competition for places is good and we’ve got some talented attacking players," said Szmodics.

“Competition just brings the best out of people which is what we need if we want to get promoted, this year.

“The season before last, we were a point off and last season wasn’t our best season.

“We slipped off but with the experienced lads we’ve brought in, the lads we’ve already got here and the youngsters coming through we have a really good core group, we have a really good chance of going for it this year.

“We’re going to go for automatic promotion like we do every year and the least that we’re expecting is the play-offs.

Szmodics is pleased to have had a productive pre-season this year and is heading into the first game of the League Two campaign - at Notts County on August 4 - feeling confident.

“I feel good and injury free," he said.

“I’ve had a good off season and pre-season so far.

“Every season at this time of year, I always say I want to have an injury-free season.

“Luckily enough, I basically got it last year even though you’re going to pick up little knocks here and there.

“I’ve got my little goals that I keep to myself, in terms of games and goals.

“Hopefully, I’ll achieve them and really kick on, this season."