Dean Hammond scooped this season’s Colchester United and Gazette Player of the Year award - and then vowed to get even better.

The 26-year-old midfielder has led by example for the U’s in Coca-Cola League One this season.

The Colchester skipper has missed only two of Colchester’s league games under manager Paul Lambert.

Hammond’s consistency has prompted supporters to vote him as their best player.

And after securing the accolade, the former Brighton and Hove Albion player is determined to get even better next season.

Hammond told the Gazette: “It’s a great honour to win the award.

“A lot of the lads at the club have had good seasons aswell.

“There’s a lot of competition there and I’m very proud to get it.

“I’ve really enjoyed the season and I just want to improve.

“Any player looks to do that and there is always a determination to get better.

“I don’t think you should ever stand still as a player.”

Hammond admitted his first full season at Colchester did not exactly get off to the best of starts.

After playing in the U’s 4-2 thrashing at Hartlepool United on the opening day of the season, he failed to make another start under former manager Geraint Williams.

But Williams’ departure in September saw Hammond immediately restored to Colchester’s starting line-up by caretaker boss Kit Symons.

And the tigerish midfielder has gone on to flourish under current manager Lambert.

“If you’d have said to me after five games of the season that I’d win the Player of the Year award, I wouldn’t have believed you,” admitted Hammond, who is suspended for Colchester’s clash with Peterborough United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium tomorrow.

“But I kept my head down and worked hard and when the new gaffer came in, it was a fresh start for everyone.

“I just pounced on that, really.

“I saw it as a fresh start and thought that I’d give it the best go I can and that’s what I’ve done.”