KWAME Poku says he is grateful to Colchester United for giving him an opportunity after committing his future to the club.

The highly-rated attacker’s eye-catching performances for the U’s in the opening half of the season have been rewarded in the shape of a new contract, which will keep him at the JobServe Community Stadium until the summer of 2022.

Poku had been playing his football for Isthmian League outfit Worthing, prior to joining Colchester in the summer.

But since making his EFL debut in September, the talented 18-year-old has established himself as a regular in John McGreal’s starting line-up.

Poku admits his first-team chance has come earlier than expected – and has thanked the U’s for giving him his big breakthrough in professional football.

Poku said: “The contract has been something that I’ve been working towards and I’m looking forward to carrying on and help us reach our goals, this season.

“When I was given the opportunity, I knew that I could do well but I didn’t think that I’d get that opportunity so soon, so fair play to them.

“They’ve given opportunities to young players to show what they can do and I’m one of those who’ve made the team.

“I’m just grateful and you have to find a place where you can settle and play and I think that’s where I am at the moment.

“I had set myself a target to try and get into the first team here by around December time but it’s happened sooner, because they’ve given me a chance so fair play to Colchester for taking a risk.

“It’s important not to get too comfortable because my career has only just started.

“I think this is the place for me to keep developing.

“I know that if I’m playing then it’s good for my development and there are other players who are around my age who aren’t playing.”

Poku spent academy time at Crystal Palace and Millwall prior to linking up with South London-based Volenti Academy, run by former U’s favourite Bobby Bowry.

That led him to playing non-league football last season before joining Colchester but the teenage forward says despite his rapid elevation, he feels comfortable at EFL level.

He said: “It was a huge step up jumping up three leagues from playing Ryman Premier football but I knew that I could do it and I always had belief in myself.

“I’m learning from the other players around me every day and some of them have been playing for ten to 15 years and I’m in my first season.

“It’s been everything that I’ve dreamed of and I definitely feel comfortable on the pitch.

“It’s now about trying to take over games and being that person who can score winning goals and things like that.”

Poku will be hoping to help Colchester claim a vital three points when they return to League Two action at home to Salford City tomorrow.

He added: “We’re four points off the play-off places so we need a win.”