HARRY Pell’s return to fitness is a major “shot in the arm” for Colchester United.

That’s the view of U’s head coach John McGreal, who is delighted to have his midfield general back and available for the new League Two campaign.

The former Cheltenham Town man was forced to miss the final three months of last season, powerlessly watching on from the sidelines as his team-mates narrowly missed out on the play-offs.

Pell had made a big impact in his first year at Colchester before his campaign was cruelly cut short by a hamstring injury in February.

He described it as his ‘worst time in football’.

Now the popular midfielder is fit again and determined to help the U’s launch another bid for League Two promotion.

“Having Harry back is a huge shot in the arm for the group and also for himself,” said McGreal.

“It’s massive for us and I think the stats proved it last season, when he didn’t play.

“We missed that physical presence when he was out and that was one of the reasons we went for him.

“Now’s he’s back and that’s down to the hard work he’s put in, during the off-season.

“He’s been brilliant and regularly contacting me and (sport scientist) Perry (Blanchette), getting all his work done.

“He doesn’t leave until he has to and he’s really put his mind to it over the off-season.

“He’s got himself in peak condition really, ahead of where he should be.”

Colchester begin their League Two campaign with a home match against Port Vale at the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday.

They played their final warm-up fixture at the weekend and signed off with a 1-1 draw at National League side Dover Athletic.

A crowd of 610 were at the Crabble Ground for the visit of McGreal’s side and the home fans had more to be celebrating at half-time as they held a one-goal lead thanks to a Michael Woods strike.

However, the U’s responded strongly in the second half and pulled level late on when Luke Norris fired home an 88th minute penalty.