COLCHESTER United head coach Steve Ball believes the challenges faced by League Two sides are making the division more competitive, this season.

The U's take on one of the EFL new boys Barrow this afternoon, hoping to continue their promising start to the new campaign in the fourth tier.

Colchester have already taken four points out of six against two of the division's more fancied teams - Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City.

The U's now face a different challenge when they take on David Dunn's Barrow, who won promotion after clinching the National League title, last season.

And Ball - in his first season as a Football League manager - sees League Two as a more competitive division, despite games being played behind closed doors.

Ball said: “I definitely think it’s an even more competitive division, because of what’s going on.

“I watch a lot of games every week and there seems to be a very strong mentality this year, in our league.

“I think the whole world is up against it and football is a great release.

“I know the fans can’t be here which is obviously another point.

"But I think the players themselves are just really digging in more than ever and I think the league is that way, this year."

Colchester's games will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It had looked as though some supporters would be allowed back into stadiums from next month, with the U's preparing to welcome some fans back.

However, the Government announced earlier this week that those plans have now been put on hold, much to Ball's disappointment,

“We need the fans back," said Ball.

“I’m so aware of the worldwide crisis with the pandemic and that’s obviously been a real nightmare.

“Families have lost loved ones but as far as football goes, for some fans to be attending games is more than safe, I think.

“If you look at the work that has gone into our ground, seats have been taken up.

"But there’s an FA Cup game in the week in a non-league ground and fans are going to those games, so why can’t it be safe at our level?

“We’re really disappointed about the new government legislation that’s come in.

“The chairman has been very vocal about it and rightly so – I just really hope that we can get some fans back soon."