LUKE Norris’s performance on his return to former club Swindon Town was a ‘big plus’ for Colchester United.

That is the view of U’s head coach John McGreal, who was impressed with the striker’s showing as a second-half substitute against the Robins.

Norris, who has scored eight goals this season, looked lively after replacing Brennan Dickenson nine minutes after half-time, in Colchester’s 3-0 defeat at the County Ground.

The performance of the 25-year-old, who has not started since New Year’s Day, was a big positive for boss McGreal.

McGreal said: “Nos came on and looked sharp – I thought that was a big plus for us.

“He looked really good when he came on.

“He’s been a bit frustrated with his injuries and coming back.

“But I think the way we’ve worked it with him, he’s looking really good and looks powerful, too.

“That’s a good positive to come out of the (Swindon) game.”

McGreal admits responding to their disappointing defeat at Swindon represents another test of character for his Colchester players.

The U’s dropped out of League Two’s play-off places after their four-match unbeaten run ended, following their first defeat in five matches.

Colchester sit eighth in the table with 11 games remaining, ahead of back-to-back home matches against Newport County and Forest Green Rovers.

“We move on and that’s the test of character again for the individuals,” said McGreal.

“They’ve been challenged throughout the season and it’s another one for them now.

“We’ve got a couple of home games coming up – there’s nothing better than to be coming home.”

McGreal admits the absence of some of their key players due to injury proved detrimental at Swindon.

Colchester’s leading scorer Sammie Szmodics, who has netted 11 times this season, missed the defeat against the Robins with a chest infection.

A hamstring injury has sidelined influential midfielder Harry Pell for the U’s last three matches, while the likes of Tom Lapslie and Brandon Comley have also been out.

“We were missing four massive players,” said McGreal.

“Sammie Szmodics has a chest infection and has been off most of the week and we had no Pell, Lapslie or Comley but I’m not moaning about it.

“Any team would miss those quality players and we certainly do at the moment.

“You’re looking at you’re leading goalscorer and around 20 goals coming out.

“But things like that happen and you just have to get on with it.

“We’ve got boys here to come on and take their opportunity and it’s something that we’ll look at.”

McGreal is hoping to have both Szmodics and Lapslie available again for the Newport clash.