Colchester United boss Geraint Williams has warned there is no guarantee the club will keep their star players.

However, he has insisted that the U's will do all they can to stave off interest from rival clubs for their prize assets.

Colchester are desperate to avoid a repeat of last summer, when the likes of Chris Iwelumo and Richard Garcia left on free transfers.

Their departures arguably contributed to the U's Coca-Cola Championship demise.

But the U's have taken steps over the last 12 months to help ensure the same does not happen again, with the likes of player-of-the-year Johnnie Jackson and Dean Gerken committing for the long-term.

Williams has been encouraged by chairman Robbie Cowling's desire to keep the club's star players.

But he knows there is a chance that they could be swayed by bigger clubs and the lure of playing in a higher division.

He told the Gazette: "I can't give the fans any answers on whether we can keep our best players.

"I have released the players that I wanted to let go and all of the other players are on longer term contracts, which is vital.

"With Chris Iwelumo and Richard Garcia, things were done a little late.

"It's something I've had to address with the chairman and he's taken it on board.

"The good thing is that no-one walks away and I want to keep everyone here.

"But financially, we know there are other clubs who can offer more money.

"If offers come in, the chairman will look at them and decide whether they are good financially for the club or not.

"That's out of my hands.

"But the player cannot walk away if he is under contract - it will be our decision on whether he goes or not.

"It's a situation where if it does arise, we will have to deal with it."

Colchester have been installed by some bookmakers as one of the favourites for promotion from League One.

Williams knows it is imperative that the U's return to the Championship as quickly as possible.

"I feel that as long as we can keep the players who have been hardened in the Championship, we can bounce back," he added.

"Once we start losing that and players are used to League One, it's hard to do that.

"It's important that we try and keep the good things from last year."

l Colchester United defender Chris Coyne is heading to the Middle East for Australia's World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and Qatar.