BRENNAN Dickenson knows he is strong enough to deal with the weight of expectation on him as he continues his Colchester United comeback from a serious knee injury.

The 24-year-old U's winger made his first appearance of the current campaign when impressing as a substitute towards the end of their 2-1 League Two win against Coventry City in midweek and is hoping to step up his return when they head to Crewe Alexandra tomorrow.

Colchester will head to the Railwaymen having lost just three of their last 20 League Two games and Dickenson knows he may have to build his way back into a starting berth as he continues to come back from surgery after suffering cruciate ligament damage last April.

His return has been eagerly-awaited by U's fans after tremendous form throughout the campaign saw him voted as the club's Player-of-the-Year last season and while he knows people will be scrutinising his return, he is ready to cope with the pressures on him.

"It's a chance to prove myself again," he said.

"I feel as though the pressure is off a little bit as I've been out for so long, but there is quite a lot of weight on my shoulders to be the player that I was before the injury.

"However, I have to take that in my stride and deal with it mentally and I feel as though I'm mentally strong enough to take that on.

"I think I showed on Tuesday that I'm capable of putting those balls into the box still and getting up and down the pitch.

"The team's form has been very good of late and it's good to be coming back into a positive environment where we're picking up points and playing well.

"For me to come back into that makes me very happy.

"The 24th (of February) is exactly nine months since my surgery.

"We said the 17th would probably have been ideal but the manager came to me on Monday and asked me the question.

"I felt good and positive enough to say yes.

"I wouldn't have put myself in that position if I didn't feel that way, but I spoke to the physio and the strength and conditioning coach and they all agreed it was the right thing to do.

"So happy days.

"Hitting my target for coming back means I have a good number of games to get back into the team and showcase myself again.

"I just want to get game time but it's down to the manager to look at my fitness and to make the decision, but I feel good and am ready to push on."

While Dickenson knows it will be manager John McGreal's decision when he gets back into the starting line-up, he insists he will be ready when he gets that call.

He said: "If the manager decides to pick me for a start then I will give 110 per cent for however long I make it out on the pitch.

"It might be an hour, it might be 70 minutes, I don't know and it will depend on what my body is capable of, but I feel I can give a good stint no matter what."

And the U's boss added: “Brennan’s chomping at the bit and trained well yesterday morning.

“I’m sure he’ll be looking for more game-time, if not starts.

“You can see what Brennan brought the other night, in 20 minutes.

“Things we’ve been lacking at times this season – people travelling with the ball and getting quality balls into the box.

“We know what he’s about and it’s just about deciding when the right time is to put him in.

“It’s one to ponder."