JOHN McGreal has urged his Colchester United players to enjoy the big occasion tonight – and secure a coveted Carabao Cup quarter-final spot.

The U’s travel to League Two rivals Crawley Town aiming to reach the last eight of the League Cup for only the second time in the club’s history.

Colchester have already enjoyed a memorable run in the competition, memorably seeing off Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace along with Swindon Town to reach the fourth round for the first time since 1974.

And ahead of the showdown in front of a sell-out crowd including around 1,700 U’s fans at the Broadfield Stadium, head coach McGreal wants his team to relish what is to come.

McGreal said: “It’s a fantastic occasion for the club, for the chairman and also for the players involved and it’s an opportunity to put themselves into the last eight.

“If you can’t enjoy these occasions, I don’t know what occasions you’re going to enjoy.

“We beat two Premier League clubs to get here and also a very good Swindon team, so it’s a great game we’re all looking forward to.

“Hopefully the players might be able to draw a little bit from what has happened in the previous rounds but the Spurs game was four weeks ago and a lot has happened – and decisions made – in that time.

“That’s all in the past and now we’re looking towards the next game against Crawley.

“The boys are feeling confident. We had to improve on the Morecambe performance and we feel as though we’ve done at Crewe and Newport.

“This game is a little bit in isolation and I’m sure Crawley will be doing that too, after what happened at the weekend.

“It’s not an occasion game – it’s a one-off game we’ll be going there to try and win because we know the rewards.”

Colchester’s game at Crawley is set to be broadcast live on TV to around 30 different countries, with the winners hoping to be in the hat for Thursday’s quarter-final draw.

McGreal says it is good for League Two to have two of the division’s clubs battling it out for a place in the last eight.

He added: “It’s a major cup competition and for division two clubs like us and Crawley to be going into this tie looking to get into the last eight is fantastic.

“This football club has only been at this stage in this competition once before, so it shows how tough it is to do.

“We’re looking to do it for only the second time and it shows you how hard it is for a club of our size to get into the last eight – we’ll be doing our best to get there.”