TOM Lapslie admits he returned to Colchester United’s starting line-up despite not being fully fit in a bid to boost their League Two play-off hopes.

But the U’s tenacious midfielder fully expects to be nearer to full fitness again by the time they travel to take on Cambridge United, this weekend.

Lapslie returned after a five-match absence in Colchester’s 2-0 defeat against Tranmere Rovers, having been sidelined for five weeks with a hamstring injury.

The 23-year-old conceded he was lacking match fitness but with injuries to fellow midfielders Harry Pell and Brandon Comley, was happy to do battle for the U’s cause.

Lapslie said: “I’m happy to be back – it’s been a long time and it feels like it’s been ages.

“In an ideal world, I shouldn’t have played (against Tranmere).

“But these things happen and it’s a time of the season where we’ve got problems, so I pushed myself to try and give myself a chance.

“I managed to get through an hour but I’m nowhere near fully fit yet.

“But it’s needs must and I’m happy to put myself out there.

“I’m fine but I just didn’t feel sharp – that happens when you’re out for four or five weeks.

“You can do as much work as you want in the gym which is what I’ve done but you can’t get your sharpness, because you need minutes and you need training.

“Touch wood, I haven’t had any further problems with it so I’m ready to go this week and be alright for Saturday.

“A week will do me good and hopefully I’ll be close to where I want to be against Cambridge.”

Colchester lie four points off the play-off places in League Two following their defeat against Tranmere, which was their third successive loss.

But despite their losing run, midfielder Lapslie insists it is still all to play for.

“It was a disappointing result (against Tranmere) but we still have seven games to go,” said Lapslie, who has made more than 100 appearances for Colchester.

“We’ll look forward to every single one of them and we’ve just got to try and get as many points as we can and then see where we are.

“There’s still 21 points to play for – we’ve got a figure that we feel will probably put us back in it and it’s no way done and dusted.

“I believe if you work hard enough, opportunities will come and we’re not questioning work rate.

“Everyone’s trying their best – everyone wants to win and no-one wants to lose.

“If we work hard enough, something will change eventually.

“We’re looking forward to Cambridge now and we have to try and pick up a win.

“It’ll be a hard week’s training and all of the boys are champing at the bit to try and get a shirt.

"The boys who are playing have got to prove to the manager that he chose the right team and get the three points.

“It’s always a good game and always a good crowd at Cambridge.

“Hopefully we’ll have another good following there and we can get another three points.”