Colchester United head coach John McGreal has stressed he will give opponents Oxford City the utmost respect when they meet in the FA Cup tomorrow.

The U’s head into the first-round tie at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in good form having lost only one of their last seven league games and face a City side who are struggling near the bottom of National League South.

However, boss McGreal insists they will not underestimate their non-league visitors this weekend, as they strive to reach the second round of the competition.

McGreal said: “We’ve hit a little bit of form in the league but the FA Cup is a lovely distraction.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game, as anything can happen in the FA Cup.

“I’m sure they’ll prep themselves well to come here and try and do a number on us and take a scalp.

“But we’ve done a lot of prep this week to try and make that not happen.

“Every league club at this stage wants to progress and try and get to the third round.

“Anything can happen in the FA Cup and we have to show them the utmost respect.

“There are upsets in the FA Cup and we have to make sure that it’s not us.

“They haven’t been doing as well as they’d like but springboards like this are a nice distraction and we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen to us tomorrow.

“It’s a good game for us and it’s a tough game.

“You have to be right on it otherwise they’ll pick your pocket.

“We’ll give them the utmost respect because they deserve it, having come as far as they have in the competition.

“The FA Cup is a lovely tradition and it just brings that different buzz and vibe.”

McGreal was involved in plenty of FA Cup ties as a player, during a career that spanned nearly 20 years.

One of his finest hours in the competition was being part of the Tranmere Rovers side that won 1-0 in the third round against a Sunderland team featuring the likes of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips, in 1998.

McGreal said: “I remember we went to Ireland after that for a short break straight after the game and watched the draw, when we drew Newcastle United and lost 1-0.

“I also remember going to play Morecambe when they were in the old second division but I can’t remember playing against non-league opponents during my playing career.”

Colchester will be without striker Nicke Kabamba for the Oxford City clash, as his parent club Portsmouth do not want him cup-tied.

However, fellow loanees Kyel Reid, Ryan Inniss, Brandon Comley and Brandon Hanlan are all available as is midfielder Tom Lapslie, who returns after a one-match ban.

Kane Vincent-Young and Sammie Szmodics trained yesterday and could be involved, after recovering from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.

But Sean Murray, Kurtis Guthrie, Brennan Dickenson and Luke Prosser remain sidelined.