HAYDEN Mullins says he is proud to become Colchester United’s new head coach – and has already started shaping his squad for next season.

Mullins was today confirmed as the U’s new boss at the JobServe Community Stadium, having impressed while in interim charge in the final eight games of this season.

The 42-year-old left Colchester to League Two safety, guiding them to three wins and three draws from their final eight games of the season.

Now Mullins has been handed the job on a permanent basis – and says he is relishing the challenge ahead.

Mullins said: “I’m very proud.

“I said 12 months ago when I joined the club that I knew it was a fantastic club – it’s got some really good staff and players and it’s a club that’s got real direction.

“Having left Watford, I thought it was the perfect club for me to come and learn and progress as a coach.

“Albeit this season has had its ups and downs but for me personally, it’s been a great learning experience as a young coach, after what we’ve been through this season.

“It’s been fantastic personally for me to learn and to see what it’s all about.”

A host of players are set to depart Colchester this summer, with more than a dozen of the first-team squad out of contract.

The U’s are set to bring in a number of new signings in their place and Mullins is looking forward to shaping his squad, in the coming weeks.

Mullins said: “Hopefully there’s a bit of momentum behind us now – we’re going to try and build that and keep pushing that, definitely.

“It’ll be a different group; everyone is aware of the number of players that have left the club and we want to recruit the right type.

“It’s given us the scope to do that and we’ve been speaking to a number of players already.

“There’s some fantastic characters and players and we want to build a really, really good group, not only for the football club but also for the young ones to learn from.

“It’s going to be a good breeding ground for young players, if we get the group right with the players coming in, hopefully we can create a really good environment for the young lads coming in and the senior ones.

“We tried to create that momentum in the final weeks and it comes from the dressing room and the training pitch and it rolls on to a match day.

“We’ll keep trying to push towards that and we’ll definitely try and create an environment for the younger players to grow.

“I’m excited about starting with a group of players and recruit the right ones we want to get in the dressing room and make it the right place, with good players with good quality with the younger ones in and around it.”

Mullins will be looking for a new assistant manager, after Paul Tisdale’s time at Colchester came to an end.

The former Exeter City boss has now left the U’s, having served them in a advisory role in their final eight games of the season.