Colchester United travel to play Salford City at Moor Lane today

COLCHESTER United boss John McGreal wants his players to ‘stand up and be counted’ when they take on Salford City this afternoon.

Graham Alexander's side head into the League Two clash in confident mood, after the Ammies booked a Wembley date with victory over Newport County on Wednesday night, in their Trophy semi-final.

But Colchester lie eight points clear of Salford in the League Two table and after back-to-back losses, McGreal wants his players to rise to the occasion at Moor Lane.

McGreal said: “I know Graham (Alexander); he’s a good guy and he’s done particularly well to get them to the final.

“He’s got a wealth of talent there to choose from and they’re now starting to become a bit of a force, in this division.

“They invested again quite heavily in January and he has quite a few permutations; I think he changed seven (against Newport) from the Stevenage win and he can quite easily change players again from (Wednesday) night to Saturday.

“Whatever team he puts out, Salford are in a position where they’re making a statement of intent by the investment that they’ve made in the division.

“Graham and (assistant manager) Chris (Lucketti) have done particularly well and done a really good job.

“They’ve consolidated pretty well, they have another Wembley appearance and we know that it’s going to be a tough game.

“It’s a great game for our fans to go to and it’s probably a new ground that they haven’t been to and it’s a great game for us, on the back of last week.

“We know that we’re going to a team in form and from our meetings with the players that we’ve had this week, everyone needs to stand up and be counted for and no better place than Salford away.

“They’re looking for the play-offs but we’ve got one of those positions ourselves and we want to consolidate and improve on that position.”

Colchester are aiming to get back to winning ways, after suffering back-to-back defeats in League Two.

McGreal said: “There are 12 games left and 36 points to play for.

“We’re in such a healthy position and it’s not all doom and gloom, at this moment in time.

“There are going to be peaks and troughs from now until the end of the season but we have to put a bit of perspective on it and sometimes, not listen to the noise.

“We’ve got a few experienced players among the group but we’ve also got young boys who are still learning and adapting to the trade and we have to be mindful of that as well."

Striker Luke Norris is pushing for a starting spot following his brace for Colchester’s under-23s in their 4-4 draw with Coventry City, on Monday night.

“We brought everyone from the squad into that game," said McGreal.

“I think there were only two players out of the squad who weren’t involved and they were Callum (Harriott) and Luke (Gambin).

“I think everyone got game time, from the keeper (Ethan Ross) right through to Luke Norris.

“They needed the game time and it was that week that we needed that’s helped them."

Midfielder Tom Lapslie remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Paris Cowan-Hall (Achilles) is a long-term injury absentee.

“We’ve got a couple of niggles that we’ve been mindful of, throughout the week,” added McGreal.

“There are certain boys missing training at certain times.

“But (Thursday) was a better day in getting a lot of the players back together again.”