HARRY Pell is hoping Colchester United’s best players stay put this summer to help them launch another promotion push.

And the popular midfielder believes the hurt of narrowly missing out on the play-offs can drive the U’s to success, next season.

Colchester are already busy planning for the 2019-20 campaign, with existing players offered new deals and others being released.

The likes of Sammie Szmodics and Frankie Kent have caught the eye of higher-placed clubs but Pell is hoping they can retain the services of their star men.

Pell told the Gazette: “I really hope that we can keep hold of the majority of the squad and keep our best players, because we are a very good team.

“I understand that football is a business but I genuinely hope that we can keep the majority of our squad.

“I hate losing and I hate the fact that we missed out on the play-offs and promotion.

“But we have to take that hurt into next season and use it in the right way.

“The club is in a strong place and we need to learn from the experience.

“This year will give us a better understanding of what we’re going to do, next year.

“We have to learn from this season, because football is such fine margins.

“It’s now a time for players to reflect on themselves and I’m sure the club will reflect overall, too.”

Pell’s first season at Colchester was cruelly cut short by a hamstring injury suffered against his former club Cheltenham Town, in February.

But the 27-year-old is on course to return in pre-season and says his lay-off has made him even hungrier for success, next time around.

“I’m devastated that our season was cut short – and mine personally too,” said Pell, who has been attending the London-based Isokinetic sports injury physio and rehab clinic.

“But at the same time, it just makes me more determined for next year.

“I came to Colchester to get promoted and I was really sure that it was going to be this year but things have gone against us.

“We’ve just missed out but the target has to be to achieve it next season and we need to be going for top three.

“I’ve really enjoyed played under the gaffer (John McGreal).

“He gives players the opportunity to go out and express themselves in the right way.

“It felt brilliant with the way we were playing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I’m really looking forward to next season already.

“I also want to say thank you to the fans for their support, which was excellent all season.”

Tranmere Rovers have been promoted to League One following a 1-0 extra-time victory over Newport County in the League Two play-off final.

Paul Lambert will make a return to the JobServe Community Stadium this summer when he brings his Ipswich Town side to take on Colchester in a friendly.

The U’s will host the League One newcomers on Friday, July 19, and will also travel to play Dulwich Hamlet (July 9), Wealdstone (July 16) and Dover Athletic (July 27) as part of their pre-season schedule.