COLCHESTER United head coach Steve Ball says he expects to hand debuts to more players this season after Sammie McLeod became the latest youngster to make his bow for the club.

The 20-year-old came on as a late substitute in the U's 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at the weekend to become the third youngster to make a first-ever senior appearance for the club in four games, this season.

Former Leicester City youngster McLeod followed in the footsteps of Miquel Scarlett and Marley Miranda-Marshall, who both made their senior U's debuts in their Carabao Cup tie at Reading, earlier this month.

In addition, 19-year-old midfielder Noah Chilvers made his maiden league start for Colchester in their 0-0 draw with Bradford City, on the opening day of the League Two season.

And 16-year-old Samson Tovide has been an unused substitute for the U's in each of their opening two league games.

Ball said: “The debuts will keep on coming.

“I’ve been so impressed by the kids’ commitment to what I’m trying to do.

“Sammie McLeod is another one who had a good year the season before last at Maldon and then had a really nasty car accident.

“He didn’t look out of place at all and he’s got a fantastic work ethic.

“I think there’s been some bits and bobs out there from outside of the club saying that it’s a new model for us but that isn’t the case – it’s just evolved a little bit.

“It’s more aligned to the academy more than ever, which is positive.

“Our club in the past even going back even to Joe Dunne’s time in charge, has always played kids who are ready, who are good enough and have stepped up to the plate.

“It was the same with Tony Humes and John McGreal – if the kids are up to it, then they’ll get opportunities at our club and that will still definitely be the case.

“That’s our model and I’ve always worked with that, because I really enjoy that model.

“I’ve coached those age groups and the young lads in the group will have a massive opportunity this season to stake a claim more than ever, with the current financial state of the world and where we are.

“That’s something that gives us a real benefit because we’re the only club in division two to have that Category Two status, with Crewe moving out of the division.

“It puts us in a great place to promote our own and once salary caps come in and we’ve got a good core of young players playing, then you can work your senior players around that and they won’t affect the budget.

“That’s a real positive as well.

“The key is that the young players take the opportunity and they won’t be picked just because they’re young.

“All of the players over the years, going back to Macca Bonne, Drey Wright and Frankie Kent have earned their place."

Colchester have made a very positive start to the new League Two season, claiming four points from a possible six in their opening two games.

Ball added: “It’s a vibrant squad and that’s what you want as a coach or a manager.

“You can’t coach that; you just want that to happen naturally.

“You can see from our performances that there’s a really good, together group this year.

“It took some knocks with some players leaving but that gives other players more opportunities."