FORMER Colchester United favourite Bobby Bowry says he is proud of protegee Kwame Poku after the talented attacker made his Football League bow.

Poku joined the U’s at the end of last season having impressed for two years at the South London-based Volenti Academy, run by ex-Colchester midfielder Bowry.

The skilful 18-year-old featured in the National Football Youth League for Volenti, where his reputation flourished and ultimately prompted Colchester to offer him a professional deal.

Poku made his Colchester debut last week when he impressed in their Trophy triumph at Gillingham.

And he appeared as a late substitute for the U’s to make his maiden EFL appearance in the goal-less draw with Walsall last Saturday, prompting boss John McGreal to complement him for his ‘dazzling feet’.

Bowry played a big part in Poku's development as a player - and says he is delighted to see the youngster break into the first team at his former club.

“He’s a talented young player and I’m really proud of him,” said Bowry, who made 124 league and cup appearances for Colchester during his four-year spell at Layer Road between 2001 and 2005.

“I’ve never seen a player drift past someone with as much ease.

“We knew that Colchester would be a great place for him to learn his trade.

“I knew he would have good pros around him like Dean Gerken and Harry Pell and I like the way that John McGreal and his staff are with integrating young players.

“It was a great feeling seeing Kwame warming up at Palace (as a substitute) during the recent Carabao Cup cup-tie at Selhurst Park.

“I’ve told Kwame that it’s all about work ethic and standards and keeping his feet on the ground.”

Poku impressed playing for Volenti Academy’s Football and Education team and had spells with non-league clubs Cray Wanderers and Worthing, prior to signing for Colchester in May.

It was his exciting performances for the Rebels in the Isthmian Premier that caught the eye and alerted the U’s, prompting them to offer him a trial at Florence Park at the end of last season and eventually offer him a professional deal.

“Kwame came to me broken,” said Bowry, whose Volenti player agency looks after the likes of Alfie Mawson, Charlie Daniels, Tommy Elphick and Chris Mepham along with U’s stars Harry Pell and Dean Gerken.

“When he was 15 or 16 years old, he was released by Millwall and had a terrible knee injury.

“But he got involved in the education programme and was looked at by the likes of Barnsley, Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest.

“My love is for the young players and seeing them do well.

“We set up the academy four years ago and since then, we’ve had 19 players turn pro.

“For us as coaches, it’s the best thing ever to see young players do well.

“You don’t forget where you have come from and you have to be humble.”