COLCHESTER United boss John McGreal has backed his young guns to fill the void vacated by his absent senior players.

The U’s are currently without a host of first-team players, ahead of their trip to play Gillingham in the Trophy tonight.

Luke Gambin and Brandon Comley are both on international duty with Malta and Montserrat respectively, which will also rule them out of this weekend’s League Two home clash with Walsall.

And Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie and Cohen Bramall are all currently sidelined through injury.

Colchester will also have to check on Luke Norris (ankle) and Courtney Senior (calf), ahead of the Group A clash at Priestfield Stadium.

But U’s head coach McGreal is confident that the club’s under-23 academy fledglings can play their part.

McGreal said: “We lose a few big players due to injuries and we lose another two players to international duty.

“Brandon's going to be a huge loss; we are really low on numbers in that midfield with injuries.

“We lose Gams (Luke Gambin) as well, so we will be low on numbers.

“But we have the back up of the under-23s and we’ve brought Theo (Robinson) in.

“It’s a tough run of games with the travelling that we’ve had to do.

“I think it’s nine games in 30 days and it’s a tough shift.”

Colchester are hoping to get their Trophy Group A participation off to a winning start at League One side Gillingham.

The U’s also face home games against Spurs under-21s and Ipswich Town, as they bid to make it through to the knockout stages.

“It’s a good competition,” said McGreal.

“We haven’t overly got the best record in it and we want to improve on it.

“We’ll see how the boys recover, get back in and pick up the pieces of what we’ve got left and go again on Tuesday.

“I hope we’re generating momentum – when the legs recover!

“The mindset is brilliant, because you’re coming off training knowing the games are there.

“When you’re winning games, the boys will be looking for the next game.

“There are a few tired legs – it’s been a real big slog but you get your rewards if you put your hard work in.

“We’ve been really pleased with the performances and we felt that we had not got our rewards.

“Now we are with that little bit of lady luck on our side and a bit more of a clinical edge starting to creep into our team, which is really good.”

Colchester could tonight hand a first start to striker Theo Robinson, who joined them on loan from Southend United last week.

Robinson came on as a substitute in the U’s 1-0 win at Oldham Athletic last weekend and was unlucky not to score on his debut when his curled effort came back off the bar.

McGreal added: “It’s no lie that we’ve chased Theo now for easily three windows but bigger clubs like your Swindon and Lincoln have come in for him.

“He’s obviously gone to the bigger club whereas now, he’s come to a team where he’ll fit right in with the way we’ve been playing and dovetailing up top.

“I thought you saw that in the 25 minutes or so he was on the pitch.

“He’s going to stretch it but he’s also a big strong boy as well and gives us a little bit of licence to move Noubs (Frank Nouble) around.”