COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal insists he is not even contemplating the “P words” – promotion and the play-offs – heading into tomorrow’s League Two curtain-raiser at home to Port Vale.

The U’s are ready to start afresh and hopefully eclipse their achievements last term, when they missed out on the top seven by a whisker on the final day.

McGreal hopes his side become one of the frontrunners and signal their intentions during an action-packed August.

However, for now, he just wants the players to feel “fresh and vibrant” heading into their season-opener at the JobServe Community Stadium.

“My only target is not to pick up any late injuries; to go into the season feeling fresh and vibrant, with smiles on our faces,” he said.

“I want everyone to enjoy it and that’s a big part of what I try and bring to the football club, whether you’re an experienced player or a younger lad like Andre Hasanally.

“You must enjoy the environment.

“At the end of the day, it’s a game of football and the best job in the world. That’s what we try to impress on the boys every day.

“Then they’ve got the best chance of showing what they can produce on the big occasion.

“As for the ‘P’ words? One game in? Not a chance (of talking about them).

“I try and deflect away all talk along those lines.

“For me, it’s about implementing all the good things we’ve done in pre-season, to try and find a level of consistency so we can hopefully make a strong start.

“That’s what every club at every level will be striving for and we’re no different.”

Colchester play seven matches during a hectic August, including their Carabao Cup tie at home to Swindon Town.

Their other league fixtures are against Plymouth Argyle, Cambridge United, Grimsby Town, Northampton Town and Oldham Athletic.

McGreal can’t wait to get started and admits there is always a special buzz surrounding the opening game.

“As a player or head coach, you’re always excited when the fixtures come out and start looking forward to the opening day,” he said.

“There’s a bit of trepidation, too, because, as we know, it’s a case of fine margins in this division.

“Every single week will be tough.

“This is going to be an even tougher year and bottom can beat top on any given day.

“There aren’t any easy matches so you have to be well-prepared and up for a battle every time.

“Then you’ve also got to try to implement your own style of play and be confident about how we want to play.

“It’s a tough start but that's what we’re here for and we hope to enjoy it.

“We’ve tried to bed the boys in as quickly as possible, in terms of the way we play.

“We have our style of play and we’re not going to change that. It’s a big part of what this club’s all about.

“But when you’re bringing in four, five or six players it’s going to take time. We’ve seen that during pre-season.

“We’ve lost some top players and those coming in have big shoes to fill.

“What we need is a level of consistency, as quickly as possible, and everyone wants to get off to a good start.”

McGreal is particularly excited to start with a home fixture – the first since he took the reins in May 2016.

“Last season was exceptional and we went so close,” he said.

“We were all gutted and it took a week or two for it to sink in that we’d missed out, given how well we performed.

“But this is a fresh start and it’s nice to start at home.

“We’ve been craving a home fixture on the opening day because our last few have been away.

“That said, it’s only nice if you make the most of it.

“Port Vale will come with big threats all over the pitch.

“They have some good, experienced players at this level.

"Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile and we’ll definitely have to be on our guard.”