JOHN McGreal has described Colchester United's recent gruelling run of fixtures as 'horrendous'.

The U's have just embarked on a taxing sequence over the Christmas and New Year period and head coach McGreal feels it has been detrimental for his young players.

He said: “We’ve had the same boys playing and we’ve had five games in 15 days.

“Five fixtures in 15 days is horrendous, at whatever level of football.

“They wonder why these young boys get injured.

“We’re trying to produce young players at certain levels of football but we’re finding that they’re getting injured at the minute and it’s too much to ask at times.

“I do believe that is a factor too with the fatigue setting in but the boys are putting a shift in.

“Kane (Vincent-Young) has still got a sore toe and Jacko (Ryan Jackson) and we are stretched in those positions.

“Luke Prosser and Frank Nouble hadn’t trained (before the Notts County game) and Frankie (Kent) was suspended, so it’s a tough slog.

“But I was really happy with the attacking display (against Notts County) and the second half was how we defend normally.

“I commend the players – we need to tighten up defensively, I understand that but I’m not going to take anything away from the attacking display."

Colchester find themselves out of League Two's top seven on goal difference, following a run of one win in their last six matches.

The U's are hoping to move back into the play-off places with victory at Port Vale this weekend and boss McGreal insists they will not move away from their principals.

He added: “We’re nearly there but it’s tight and when you don’t pick up points and other teams too, one or two things get said.

“We still firmly believe that we’re a good team and we’ve proved it over a number of months and it’s about those responsibilities and high standards, things that we won’t shy away from."

U's forward Decarrey Sheriff has joined National League South side Dulwich Hamlet on a month's loan.

The 20-year-old has previously been playing on loan at Bostik League North side Maldon and Tiptree, this season.