COLCHESTER United have been dealt a blow after key midfielder Harry Pell was ruled out for up to a further six weeks with an Achilles problem.

Pell has not featured for the U’s since playing in their League Two opening-day draw with Port Vale, on August 3.

And after a recent meeting with a specialist, the former Cheltenham Town man has been told that he is likely to remain sidelined until early October.

It is a setback for Pell, who also missed the final three months of last season due to a hamstring injury.

Colchester head coach John McGreal said: “He’s going to be out for a number of weeks, at least six.

“He’s a little bit low at the minute which would you expect, because he came back flying in pre-season.

“He went to see a specialist last week and he’s given him a regime to follow.

“We’re hoping it’s a maximum of six weeks – if it’s before that, then that’s great and we’ve done really well.

“He’s a little bit low at the minute but he was desperate to be at the (Palace) game the other night, as were Tom (Lapslie) and Omar (Sowunmi).”

Colchester are also without Tom Lapslie due to a quad muscle injury he suffered after the Carabao Cup win over Swindon Town, on August 13.

McGreal said: “We’ve taken a couple of steps forward with Tom and then one step back.

“We thought Tom (Lapslie) might be able to train (on Thursday) but he hasn’t been able to, which is really disappointing.”

Colchester are also without defensive duo Omar Sowunmi (quad) and Cohen Bramall (ankle) ahead of their trip to play Oldham Athletic, this weekend.

And they will have to check on the fitness of Ben Stevenson, after he came off in the latter stages of the Carabao Cup victory at Crystal Palace, on Tuesday night.

McGreal added: “We’re just getting a few muscle tissue injuries at the minute.

“With those four big players out within the first month who would be within your team, it’s a blow.

“There are a couple of senior boys in there as well who we need to get back, to get that competitive edge that we all love.

“But the boys keep going and we have the back-up of the under-23s and we’ve seen that with the likes of Ryan Clampin, Noah Chilvers and Andre Hasanally, who’s been in and around it.

“We want that next batch to come through because throughout the season you’re going to get injuries.”