HAYDEN Mullins has played down the absence of some of Colchester United’s senior players from their final-day game at Tranmere Rovers.

Experienced duo Harry Pell and Callum Harriott missed a second successive match due to personal reasons.

And none of Dean Gerken, Jevani Brown, Courtney Senior, Ben Stevenson, Paris Cowan-Hall and Omar Sowunmi travelled to Prenton Park for the 0-0 draw.

All eight players are due to see their existing contracts at the JobServe Community Stadium expire, this summer.

A number of academy players made the trip to Tranmere in their place, with Tom Stagg handed his professional debut after coming off the bench as a late substitute and Harvey Sayer also making another senior appearance.

U’s interim head coach Mullins said: “I can’t go into bits and pieces - there are personal situations in there as well.

“It’s also an opportunity to give the younger lads an opportunity to look at it.

“We are safe; we had the younger lads on the bench in case we wanted to make the changes.

“We want to look at debuts, we knew the XI we wanted to go with.

“There are loads of different circumstances and I wouldn’t look too far into it until all of the meetings and the chats have been had.

“There were a couple of injuries that we’ve picked up, this week.

“There were some niggles but we knew the XI we were going to go with.

“We wanted to go as strong as we could do and the same starting line-up as the last games and there was an opportunity to get Staggy on the bench, who’s scored a lot of goals this season for the younger age groups.

“So we thought it would be a very good chance to have a little look at him in first-team action.

“It’s a credit to the young lads who were on the bench because they’ve done well this season and it’s more to have a look at them rather than the opposite but I can understand the way it looks.”