SAM Saunders insists he is fit and ready to start for Colchester United in their crunch home clash with Oldham Athletic tomorrow.

But the U’s new signing wants to play his part for his play-off chasing side – regardless of whether he is selected in their starting line-up for the game against the Latics.

Saunders is in line to make his home debut for Colchester this weekend, having appeared for them for the first time as a late substitute in their 1-0 win at Cambridge United, last weekend.

But the 35-year-old knows that he has a role to play both on and off the pitch for the U’s between now and the end of the season, following his arrival on a free transfer last month.

Saunders said: “It’s down to the gaffer on whether I start on Saturday.

“Hopefully, I’ve impressed him enough when I’ve played or in training but I’ve come into a team and a squad that’s done well.

“I want to play, selfishly of course I do and I will only get fitter by playing.

“But equally, I respect the gaffer’s decision and if he needs me to come in off the bench I’ll do that.

“It’s not about me – it’s about Colchester United getting in the play-offs and I’ll be there to help them all the way.”

Saunders has enjoyed promotions with Wycombe Wanderers, Brentford and Dagenham and Redbridge during the course of his career.

The midfielder says the team spirit that is evident among Colchester’s players reminds him of previous squads he has been involved with.

“Colchester have got lots of good players,” added Saunders, who had been a free agent after leaving Wycombe by mutual consent in January.

“That’s what we had at Brentford – we had lots and lots of talented players.

“At Dagenham, we were a bit more old school in the way that we played and it was a case of making sure we just got a result.

“And at Wycombe last year, it was a very old, experienced side who know how to get results.

“This one is a complete contrast from what I had last year.

“But there are lots of ways to skin a cat and in any successful team you need team spirit and we have that here in abundance.

“You hear it every day – the boys are bubbly and they’re all over each other.

“I came in the first day and I thought ‘goodness gracious, it’s loud in here!’.

“But know I’ve got to know their personalities and I think they’re brilliant.

“It’s good that they have that and even after the Tranmere defeat when I came in, they were still willing to learn and keep improving and that’s what you need.

“It’s a good team spirit and it reminds me of teams where I’ve won promotion.”