John Ward is not surprised at the progress Drey Wright has made in pre-season after the teenager bagged the winning goal for Colchester United in their final friendly of the summer.

Wright’s fine low strike from more than 20 yards was enough to give the U’s a narrow 1-0 win over Blue Square Bet North side Bishop’s Stortford, at Woodside Park.

Wright has featured heavily for Colchester’s first team in their pre-season preparations, after signing his first professional contract for them at the beginning of the summer.

He will travel to Yeovil Town with the rest of the U’s squad for tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup first-round tie and Ward believes Wright and his young team-mate Alex Gilbey have plenty of potential.

Ward said: “Both Drey and Alex are young players who just don’t look out of place.

“In fact, they look well within their positions and in place, so it’s nice for us to have.

“It doesn’t really surprise me that they’ve made these strides.

“If it’s the same in December it would be surprise me, because we need to protect them and look after them as good as they are and as strong as they look.

“Six or seven games down the line that can be a big change.

“I have to make sure that myself and the coaching staff manage this part of their career.

“They may come through, they may not; we still have to find that out.

“My guess is that they will be a little bit tired come December time.

“All through pre-season, I’ve involved them at first-team level and they’ve also been involved with the under-21 team.”

Ward said he was pleased with the U’s performance at Bishop’s Stortford.

The Colchester manager rested the likes of Clinton Morrison, Marcus Bean and Anthony Wordsworth but Colchester were still able to secure victory.

“I got what I wanted in that the whole afternoon was to put a little bit more into players,” said Ward.

“We’re all ready to go and the new season is in the front of the players’ minds now.

“It would have been too easy to have not had a game on Saturday and just prepare for the Yeovil game.

“But some guys needed 45 minutes and a bit longer against Bishop’s Stortford.

“It was a top-up job and I’m really pleased with it.

“It was a good afternoon’s work and Bishop’s Stortford made us work hard for it.”

See Monday's Gazette for a full match report from the U's final friendly at Bishop's Stortford.