WAYNE Brown is the favourite to take over as Colchester United's new head coach following John McGreal's departure.

U's 2006 promotion winner Brown is the front-runner to succeed McGreal, who was yesterday dismissed by the League Two club after just over four years in charge of first-team affairs.

McGreal's number two Steve Ball, former Exeter City and MK Dons boss Paul Tisdale and ex-U's under-23 manager Kevin Horlock have also been linked with the job.

Brown, who made more than 150 league and cup appearances for Colchester between 2004 and 2007, is currently manager of Isthmian League division north side Maldon and Tiptree, who have a alliance with the U's.

In his second season as Maldon boss, the 42-year-old guided the Jammers to top spot of the division and on the brink of promotion, prior to the season being cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Maldon also enjoyed a magnificent FA Cup run which saw them beat League Two side Leyton Orient before eventually bowing out to Newport County, in the second round.

Brown had a spell as Colchester caretaker manager at the end of 2015, working alongside McGreal following the departure of Tony Humes as boss.

He presided over three matches while in temporary charge, prior to withdrawing from the race to become permanent boss, leading to Kevin Keen taking over soon after.

Brown said at the time: "I've had a long discussion with the chairman - I've decided the time is not right for me.

"I haven't slept that much - it's frustrating this massive opportunity has come at this moment."

Colchester are now looking for a new first-team boss after McGreal was dismissed, after just over four years in the hot seat at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Colchester chairman Cowling has revealed that they will be looking to ensure that the U's first team is more 'tightly aligned' with the academy, in which the U's chairman has invested considerably over the years.

And after meeting his fellow directors, the U's have decided that they now require a new man to take the club forward.

In a statement, Cowling said: "I spoke with John McGreal on Friday 3rd July to explain that the club is going to be implementing a new plan that will see the first team being even more tightly aligned to the Academy and that I along with my three other directors, (Tony Humes, Tony Ashby and Jon De Souza), felt a change of First Team Head Coach was required if our new direction was to be successfully implemented.

"This was a very tough decision for a number of reasons, but not least because John has been First Team Head Coach for the last four years.

"This last season has been one of the club’s best seasons for a number of years and John should be very proud of his time in charge of the first team.

"However, the club is not only facing a number of unprecedented challenges but also some unprecedented opportunities and myself and the other directors believe significant changes are required that will be best served with a new Head Coach.

"John has done a great job for Colchester United and I wish him well for his future."