MICHAEL Fernandes is back training with Colchester United's first-team squad after impressing boss John McGreal.

The skilful 20-year-old attacker, who joined the U's from Southern League outfit Farnborough on a two-year deal in July, featured heavily for them in pre-season but is yet to make a senior appearance for the League Two club.

However, Fernandes has been catching the eye for Colchester's under-23 side, in Professional Development League Two.

The former Middlesex-based Conquest Football Academy youngster has scored three times in his last four appearances, for Richard Hall's academy side.

And that has earned Fernandes a recall to Colchester's senior squad, as he bids to challenge for a place in their first-team ranks.

McGreal said: “Michael came in in the summer and did well.

“With the amount of players we brought in and the experience we added, he dropped down to the under-23 squad.

“He did well and then had a little bit of a lull, which is often the case with young players.

“I had a good chat with Michael a couple of weeks ago - his performances have been very good of late.

“He’s been scoring for the under-23s and he’s a runner – when he gets going, you’re not going to be able to catch him.

“Michael’s starting to nail down some good habits and stick to them.

“He’s been training with the first team of late and he knows that there is a pathway in place, as there is for all of our young players."

Colchester return to League Two action this weekend when they host Salford City, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The U's will be aiming to get back on track following their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Stevenage in the Leasing.com Trophy second round, on Tuesday night.

Colchester produced a much-improved second-half display against Boro but were unable to avoid defeat, following a below-par opening period which saw them trail 2-0 at half-time.

It was the U's first game for ten days and head coach McGreal admits their enforced lay-off did not help matters.

McGreal said: “The opposition try and spoil what we try and do and if you look at what we did in the second half, we can pull teams apart at times.

“But we need to see that from the first minute and I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday.

“I’m hoping that the boys are too and it’s a huge game for us.

“I was really pleased with the second half and it’s more about what we’re about.

“The enforced break really hindered us.

“We tried to get 11v11 in house but it just doesn’t replicate the same in training really.

“It’s a game that we’ve needed but it’s sad that we’ve gone out of the cup because we wanted to get into the last 16."