BEN Stevenson insists he is happy to embrace the extra responsibility of spearheading Colchester United’s midfield ahead of their crucial home clash with Newport County.

The 21-year-old has less than 40 league starts to his name but has had to take on a more prominent role for the play-off chasing U’s over recent weeks, following injuries to Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie and Brandon Comley.

Stevenson is tomorrow likely to be paired once again in central midfield with Diaz Wright, who himself has made only four league starts for Colchester to date.

But the former Coventry City playmaker, who joined the U’s on a permanent deal from Premier League side Wolves in January, says he welcomes any extra demands he is given.

Stevenson said: “I’ve gone from probably being one of the least experienced midfielders compared to Harry Pell and Tom Lapslie, to one of the most experienced.

“But I’ll take that on my shoulders and embrace it.

“Every game you play, you get more experienced and it gives you more confidence.

“I’m happy to be playing and being in the team and I need to make sure I keep my foot on the gas.

“The main thing for me when I came here was to play games and obviously impress the manager here.

“The manager here allows me to play the game I want to play and how I’ve grown up playing.

“We’ve gone from having a few options in there to three of the first team centre midfielders being injured.

“It’s been unfortunate really but that’s what happens in football and we have to deal with it and cope with it.

“We obviously want everyone to come back as quickly as possible to increase competition – that will only be good for the team.”

Stevenson has impressed since returning to Colchester, following his loan spell with them in the second half of last season.

He helped them go through the whole of last month unbeaten, with his performances resulting in him being shortlisted for the PFA Bristol Street Motors Fans’ Player of the Month award for February.

“It’s a bonus getting recognition from other areas and it’s all positive,” said Stevenson, who spent time earlier this season on loan at Spanish Segunda División B side FC Jumilla.

“It’s been a massive help coming here after that loan spell and knowing most of the lads from last season.

“It was a confidence boost to come straight in and get the first two results that we did get.”

Colchester are hoping to get back to winning ways tomorrow, following their 3-0 defeat at Swindon Town, last weekend.

They face a Newport side who lie five points and four places below them in the League Two table but Stevenson knows it will be a tough game.

He added: “They did well with their cup run and we have to be wary of their threats.

“We’ve been working in training all week on how we’re going to squash their threats and also play our own game.

“It’s one we’re looking forward to and also bounce back from our last result.

“We went the whole of February unbeaten but we maybe took our foot off the gas a little bit, last Saturday.

“We didn’t perform as well as we know we can but we’ve been working all week in training with full focus on the next game.”