ROBBIE Cowling has praised the contribution of Colchester United’s young players in a testing 2020-21 campaign.

The U’s spent the final few months of last season battling to avoid the drop from League Two but there were some encouraging aspects, not least the form of the U’s fledgling stars.

Newly-crowned Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year Noah Chilvers played a big part in helping to keep Colchester in the Football League, along with the likes of Ryan Clampin and Brendan Wiredu.

In addition, a total of eight of the club’s academy players made their senior debut for the U’s, last season including Billy Cracknell (pictured below), who along with Sam Cornish and Harry Beadle has just signed a pro contract with the club.

Speaking at the press conference which saw Hayden Mullins unveiled as the new U’s boss, chairman Cowling said: “We’ve had other seasons where it feels good all season and at the end of it, you think ‘well actually, what have we got out of the season’.

“This year, we’ve had so many young players who have made debuts, got themselves in the team, held down positions in the team.

“I think Noah Chilvers made the third highest appearances this year and when you’re behind Tom Eastman who plays every week, you have to do well to be up there so Noah has done fantastically well.

“Brendan (Wiredu) – what a signing that was, in January.

“Now he may not have come from our academy but he came to us earlier because of what we’ve got and the set-up we’ve got.

“He understands that he can come here and play football and develop.

“Now it’s over and all of the jeopardy has gone that was horrible, it’s exciting to look back and see what we have actually ticked as a club.

“Those things are important and Hayden knows that – he knows that next year, he’ll be judged on things, as well.

“It’s a difficult job and a difficult balancing act.”


Meanwhile, Cowling says there is no specific time limit on the contract handed to Mullins as the U’s new head coach.

Mullins took over as Colchester’s permanent boss last month, having impressed as their interim coach in the final weeks of last season.

“We don’t normally set a limit to the time of our contract,” said Cowling.

“People come in and they’re on a contract; they’ve got all of the rights that people normally get when they’re employed and I think we’ve got a good history of being loyal.

“Even when we’ve had to make changes, we want to keep people who are good people within the club when we come.”