NEW signing Miles Welch-Hayes had been on Colchester United's radar 'for a number of months' prior to joining them on a free transfer.

The U's snapped up the athletic full-back last week on a two-and-a-half year contract, after he left their League Two rivals Macclesfield Town on January 31.

Welch-Hayes is hoping to build up his match fitness, having not featured for the Silkmen's first team since January 11.

But the 23-year-old , who can play at either right-back or left-back or as a right-sided centre-half, promises to provide useful competition for the likes of Ryan Jackson and Tafari Moore.

And Colchester boss John McGreal says he is pleased to have the former Oxford United youngster on board, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

McGreal said: “Miles has been on our radar for a number of months and Tony (Humes) and Robbie (Cowling) have done brilliantly well to get it over the line.

“He’s missed a lot of football after leaving Macclesfield in the middle of January but he’s a body in amongst it.

“It’s important as you can see with Ryan Jackson with his hamstring and we’ve also got Tafari Moore.

“We need boys at this time and we’re lucky enough to be able to get an out-of-contract player into the building."

Meanwhile, U's head coach McGreal has praised defender Omar Sowunmi following his impressive comeback performance in their 2-1 win at Salford City, last Saturday.

The 24-year-old centre-back produced a solid display after being recalled to the Colchester side for their League Two clash, at Moor Lane.

Sowunmi’s start at Salford was only his fourth for Colchester in League Two since he joined them from Yeovil Town, last summer.

The Colchester-born defender last league start for the U's had been in their 2-2 home draw with Exeter City, on January 29.

“Look at Omar, after a number of months of being out," added McGreal.

“He was forced to come out (of the team) because of an injury but we’ve been very solid at the back.

“He’s come in from nowhere and has done particularly well.

“I thought some of his touches from crosses were outstanding, at times."