JOHN McGreal admits picking his Colchester United starting line-up for their curtain-raiser at Notts County was his toughest team selection as a manager.

The U’s head coach was left with plenty of difficult decisions to make ahead of the Meadow Lane opener, following a productive pre-season campaign.

Mikael Mandron, who hit seven goals in Colchester’s friendlies this summer, was left on the bench for the 0-0 draw, in League Two.

And the likes of Courtney Senior and new signing Luke Norris also had to be content with a place among the substitutes.

McGreal said: “It was the toughest team I’ve had to pick in my time as manager.

“It was a tough decision after the way pre-season went, especially the last two friendlies.”

McGreal was forced to change his tactics just hours before the game at Notts County, following Kane Vincent-Young’s failure to agree a new contract.

Vincent-Young had been due to start against the Magpies but his omission forced the U’s boss to rethink his approach, with Frank Nouble utilised as their main attacker in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

“We had to move things around,” said McGreal.

“There was a lot of self-management out there and a lot of things that they were trying to deal with themselves with the tactical side at half-time.

“I thought they put in a fantastic performance.

“We wanted to go with a different shape but I thought Noubs (Frank Nouble) ran himself into the ground.

“He was a foil for Aaron Collins and when Aaron went off, he just slotted into that left-hand side and that’s the good thing you get with Noubs – he’s very intelligent.

“He gives that hustle and bustle and physicality up there and I thought that he put in a great performance.”

Meanwhile, McGreal believes new signing Harry Pell is already making an impact within the Colchester squad.

Pell joined the U’s from League Two rivals Cheltenham Town at the beginning of the summer and has impressed at his new club, so far.

McGreal added: “He’s very vocal around the pitch and his personality has shown in the dressing room, too.

“He’s going to improve and he’s improving us already with his talking and being experienced.

“I thought he put in a strong performance (at Notts County) along with Tom Lapslie, who had to put in a lot of the dirty work to allow the likes of Aaron Collins and Sammie Szmodics the freedom to exploit the little pockets.

“I thought they were a great foil for those two.”