FREDDIE Sears was in pretty good company when he began knocking in the goals having been elevated to West Ham United's first-team training, at Chadwell Heath.

As a fresh-faced teenager who had burst onto the scene with a goal on his Premier League debut, the striker had joined a list of attackers at the club that at the time included the likes of Dean Ashton, Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole.

"Freddie was a real livewire when he first came into the squad at West Ham," said Colchester United boss Hayden Mullins, who was a team-mate of Sears when he broke into the Hammers' senior ranks in the 2007-08 season have risen from their academy.

"He was really young and was still learning then but he had some good strikers to learn from."

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Fast forward 14 years and having just celebrated his 32nd birthday at the weekend, Sears is now around the same age the likes of Ashton and Bellamy were back then - and is showing no sign of slowing up.

He has scored five goals in his last seven games for Colchester and his exquisite strike in his side's 1-1 draw with Newport County last Friday night was his 38th league goal for the club.

Sears has scored seven for the U's in League Two so far this season since returning to them from neighbours Ipswich Town, with 31 coming in his first spell for the U's.

It has elevated Sears to reside among Colchester's top-20 all-time league scorers, one behind legend Tony English.

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"I'm really enjoying it at the minute and really enjoying playing as a striker," he told Col U TV.

"It's where I want to play and it's what I've come here to play as, so I'm really enjoying it.

"I feel like in every game, I've had chances to score which is a positive in itself.

"I've always been positive, playing as a striker.

"I always know that if I play as a centre-forward, I'll score goals in whatever league."

Sears' statistics so far this season speak for themselves.

He has by far the highest shot accuracy and goal conversion rates of all of League Two's top-20 leading scorers.

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Indeed, among those top scorers he has had the fewest number of shots - 17 - but impressively, has scored seven of them.

Sears' movement in and around the front line is one of the key elements of his game.

But he is also proving to be clinical, when he gets a sniff of goal.

"His runs to get in are so subtle and he really plays on the line," said U's boss Mullins of his leading scorer.

"At times, he gets flagged offside but when he does get in, he's a real menace.

"I'd hate to mark him if I was a centre-half.

"He has so much movement; to drop deep, to pull someone out, to spin in behind, to pull around - he's so hard to mark, especially around that halfway line.

"Let's see how many goals Freddie can get before Christmas and if he can get into double figures, I'm sure he'll very pleased and he'll spend the next half of the season trying to add to his tally.

"He's a real asset."

With Sears in such irresistable form, the U's are finding that some things are even better, second time around.