KWAME Poku enjoyed a dazzling debut for Colchester United – just days after being omitted from the squad for turning up late for a team meal.

The talented 18-year-old attacker shone in his first-ever professional start, where he helped the U’s beat Gillingham 3-2 in their opening Trophy Group A game.

Poku has been training with Colchester’s first-team squad for a number of weeks, having impressed since joining them from BetVictor Isthmian League Premier side Worthing at the end of last season.

He was due to be among the substitutes for the U’s League Two game at Oldham Athletic last weekend but was withdrawn from the squad by boss John McGreal, after he was late for a pre-match team meal.

However, Poku bounced back in style at Gillingham – and U’s head coach McGreal thinks he is an exciting prospect.

McGreal said: “Kwame has been lighting it up in training and it’s only a matter of time before we gave him his opportunity.

“He turned up late for a meal last Friday night – he was on the (Oldham) trip so we pulled him off the bench and I don’t think he’ll do that again.

“We had to make a statement with the younger boys so he was out of the squad for Saturday (against Oldham).

“He’s learnt from that and I pulled him yesterday (Monday) and said ‘listen, you’ll get a second opportunity’.

“He was chomping at the bit when I told him he was playing.

“He came off the pitch and gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever had from a player.

“He’s made his debut and he’s really pleased with his performance.

“He’s so excited and exuberant for the performance he’s put in there because at 17 years of age, I thought he was top, top drawer.

“I think he’s going to whet the appetite.

“He’s been training with us now for the last three weeks, so it was only a matter of time before we put him in.”