COLCHESTER United defender Cameron James hopes to make the most of a newfound confidence in his ability.

The 21-year-old, who rose through the ranks in the club's academy, is pushing for a first-team spot and wants to build on his performances for loan club Braintree Town.

Although he was unable to prevent the Iron being relegated into National League South, he felt the experience helped his game no end - something he now wants to prove at Colchester.

“It’s good to be back training with the boys again, having spent last season on loan," he said.

“Hopefully I can stay in and around it and get some game time, this season.

“Everyone’s in the same boat, fighting for positions, and I feel a lot more confident this season than I did last.

“Last year was a tough one to take, getting my first relegation.

“But the boys battled non-stop all of the way through the season.

“We had a ridiculous amount of players go in and out but it was just a case of working hard Tuesday and Thursday with a game on the Saturday.

"Towards the end of the season, we picked our form up.

“We beat some decent teams and had there been another few weeks, I think we’d have survived.

“It was tough to take but for me personally, I played a full season of men’s football at a decent level so I feel like it’s only made me a better player.

“I played a lot of games – I think I played in every game in which I was available for.

“A lot of players came and went and a few managers too, so it was one of those seasons where I learnt a lot in a small amount of time.

“For me, you could say it couldn’t have gone any better because I’ve had all of those experiences within the space of one season where some people might not have had all of those experiences until halfway through their career."

James is hoping his versatility proves an advantage next season.

As well as being a competent defender, he can also play in midfield.

“I played mainly as either a four or an eight for Braintree and enjoyed it," he said.

“I used to play centre-mid as a youth-team player, so I’ve played there before and really enjoyed it.

“I’m one of those players who can slot in and do a job wherever I’m put.

“I’m trying to add more assists to my game, though, now I’ve started playing in central midfield and right-back rather than centre-half."

Colchester play their final pre-season friendly tomorrow afternoon, away to National League side Dover Athletic.

It is their last game before next weekend's League Two curtain-raiser at home to Port Vale.