When a manager drops three of his key regulars to the bench for a game, you know he means business.

John McGreal’s decision to leave leading scorer Sammie Szmodics, Tom Lapslie and Drey Wright out of his Colchester United starting line-up for their vital clash with Newport County was undoubtedly a bold one.

The home-grown trio have all made a significant contribution for the U's so far, this season and have merited their place in the side.

But McGreal's brave call ultimately paved the way for Colchester to finally get off the mark in 2018 and halt a winless run that had been threatening to derail their League Two promotion hopes.

His options were boosted by the addition of deadline-day signings Ben Stevenson and Liam Mandeville.

But although the former came off the bench and make a big impact in the second half, it was the selection from the start of two players who arrived at the very start of McGreal’s reign as U’s head coach that ultimately provided the foundation of their victory.

In Courtney Senior, the club have a player who is certainly making up for lost time.

Having been cruelly robbed of his first season at the Weston Homes Community Stadium because of a cruciate injury, U’s fans are now seeing the young attacker’s talent at first hand.

The positivity, skill and enterprise Senior showed in producing a lung-busting run to set up Stevenson for Colchester’s opener against Newport was a snap-shot of his undoubted promise and his performances over recent weeks have been a breath of fresh air.

At the other end of the pitch – and age spectrum – Luke Prosser’s performance on his first start in nearly 15 months was outstanding and completely justified McGreal’s decision to pick him from the start.

The U’s club captain was assured throughout and the two goal-saving blocks the experienced centre-back made in his own penalty area towards the end of the first half were magnificent.

With three loanees being signed on deadline day and Brennan Dickenson hoping to return to first-team action by the end of the month, McGreal’s options are certainly looking more expansive for the final 15 games of the season, despite last month’s departure of several squad players.

After getting back to winning ways, he will be aiming for his side to recapture some of the consistent form they showed at the end of last year and a settled side will help them do that.

However, it is vital McGreal has alternatives in all areas and the Newport win has offered hope that this might well now be the case.