MARTELL Taylor-Crossdale is experiencing a 'huge learning curve' after making a loan move to Colchester United.

That's the view of U's boss Steve Ball, who has urged the young striker to keep working hard over the coming weeks to challenge for a place in the Colchester starting line-up.

Taylor-Crossdale has featured for only 24 minutes for the U's since joining them on a season-long loan from Premier League side Fulham, earlier this month.

The 20-year-old has been trying to build up his fitness, having had little game time during pre-season at his parent club.

Taylor-Crossdale played 90 minutes for Colchester's under-23 side in their goal-less draw with Charlton Athletic, on Monday night.

He also played the whole game in the U's under-23s' win at Watford in Professional Development League Two, last week.

However, the former Chelsea youngster has not been named in the U's matchday 18 for their opening two League Two games of the season, against Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City.

And U's head coach Ball wants the striker to work hard to force his way into their first-team reckoning.

Ball said: “Martell is in my thoughts – all players within my group are in my thoughts.

“The big thing about Martell is that he’s had limited minutes in pre-season.

“He’s found our level probably far better than he maybe had thought, in terms of coming from Chelsea under-18s and Fulham under-23s.

“This is his first loan and I think the standard has really shocked him in some ways, especially the standard of our guys as a possession-based team and the fluid movement they have.

“He needs to get there and hopefully, he’ll get there soon.

“There’s a huge learning curve – that’s the big thing.

“I’ve coached under-23s football and non-league football so I know the levels and there’s a huge gulf.

“Some players like the (Kwame) Pokus of the world can jump into it straight away and hit the ground running and others take a bit more time.

“Martell is there right now but he has to work really hard over these next few weeks to get himself up there."

Meanwhile, Ball said he was pleased with Courtney Senior's performance following his return to Colchester's starting line-up, last weekend.

The 23-year-old winger made his first league start of the season in the U's 2-0 triumph, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Ball added: "Courtney was more like the Courtney that we all know and love."