COURTNEY Senior has become a stronger player for the setbacks he has suffered during the early part of his career, according to Colchester United academy manager Jon De Souza.

Senior has made a big impact for the U’s over recent weeks, contributing to goals they have scored in each of their last four League Two matches.

The 19-year-old was hugely impressive in Colchester’s 2-0 win over Newport County last weekend, setting up Ben Stevenson for their opener following a superb solo run.

De Souza has known Senior since 2011 having also coached the skilful attacker during his time in charge of Brentford’s under-18 and under-21 teams and says he is delighted to see the teenager shine at first-team level.

De Souza said: “We signed Courtney at Brentford at the back end of his under-15 season.

“I’ve known him for nearly seven years now and what he’s done recently is what I’ve been waiting for.

“He made his Brentford debut but then got released, then he came to Colchester and got a serious injury that kept him out for almost the whole of last season.

“He’s had a lot of setbacks but those disappointments have helped him mature a lot, both as a player and a person.

“He is becoming an established first-team player and the aim is to see others follow in his footsteps – it would be great to see another current under-23 player in the first team before the end of the season.”

Colchester’s academy is on a high at present, especially following Senior’s successful elevation to the first-time, the under-18s’ FA Youth Cup run and Harvey Sayer’s England under-15 call-up.

The U’s youth-team sides have also achieved several eye-catching results over Ipswich Town academy teams over recent days, beating their East Anglian neighbours at under-23, under-18, under-16 and under-15 level and scoring 21 goals in the process.

“We’ve had some really positive performances, throughout the season but I’m not one to judge too much on that side of it,” said De Souza, who took over as U’s academy manager in July, 2016.

“However it is different in the FA Youth Cup, when we put out our best team and you know the opposition clubs do, too.

“The FA Youth Cup run has been really pleasing – I think it’s the furthest we’ve got in the competition in our history for some time.

“We know we’ve been playing against strong teams and the under-18s have been able to play at the stadium on five occasions, which is great for them.

“But in the league academy programme, you never know what the opposition puts out in any specific game on a Saturday.

“There have been some pleasing matches, so far like the under-15s beating Leicester City 7-0 in the Premier League Cup last month.

“We’ve also had Courtney Senior breaking into the first team and Harvey Sayer being called up to the England under-15 squad.

“For one of our own players to be involved in that environment is key for us and great for Harvey.

“We recently had six players Academy players – including Courtney – in the first team starting line-up.

“That’s what we’re here for.

“When you work in Academy football, short-term success is not valid – the only way you can judge it is with players playing in the first team.”