Colchester United opinion with Gazette sports writer Jon Waldron

COLCHESTER United finished among League Two’s highest goalscorers, last season.

And for John McGreal’s side to prosper this year, they really need their forwards to be firing on all cylinders.

So the joyous sight of Luke Norris celebrating a goal on the opening day of the embryonic campaign was certainly an encouraging one.

For much of the previous season, McGreal stuck with a familiar 4-3-3 system with a main number nine flanked by two attacking wide men and a number ten, supporting just behind.

That is likely to be the same again this season, with Norris currently occupying the role of the U’s main target man.

It can be a challenging position in which to play; often, a number nine can find himself isolated and starved of the ball but goals can make all the difference.

With Mikael Mandron having departed in the summer, it looks as though it is between Norris and Frank Nouble to lead the line for the U’s, this season.

And as much as Nouble prefers to play in a central berth, the early signs suggest that he will be utilised again in a wide attacking position.

Nouble’s impressive display on the left flank against Vale, where he linked up well with new signing Cohen Bramall, offered more evidence that he is most effective there, although he also impressed as the main target man in the latter weeks of the 2018-19 season.

“We want Frank up there as a nine at times but we’ve got Nos scoring goals,” said McGreal afterwards.

“We’ve gone 4-4-2 at times but it doesn’t overly work.

“We’ve also tried 3-5-2 to get the two boys up there but when you get Noubs out on the left or the right, he causes all sorts of problems.”

Norris was prolific in the opening weeks of the previous campaign, scoring seven times in his first nine games for the U’s after joining them from Swindon.

At that point, he looked like he was on course for a 20-plus goal tally but his ankle injury suffered last November rather curtailed his momentum. Sadly, he never really looked quite as sharp in the months that followed; he failed to score in 23 appearances.

But Norris has returned for pre-season looking lean and hungry.

He has shown last season that he is capable of hitting the net on a regular basis, for the U's.

And with the likes of Nouble, Jevani Brown, Courtney Senior and Luke Gambin providing him with the necessary ammunition, the potential is there for him to be Colchester’s goalscoring talisman in what they hope will be their promotion push.