COLCHESTER United legend Kem Izzet says the club have to “kick into gear” soon – if they want to keep their flickering play-off dream alive.

Their push for a top-seven spot in League Two has stalled after back-to-back 1-0 defeats against struggling pair Crewe Alexandra and Barnet.

It has left them 12th in the table and now seven points adrift of the last play-off spot, currently occupied by Swindon Town.

Izzet, pictured, who made over 400 appearances for Colchester and was a key player in their 2006 promotion-winning campaign, still believes his old team can stay in contention but admits they need to build momentum in their remaining 11 fixtures.

“There are still plenty of points to play for but the worrying thing is that their form going into this last stretch isn’t great,” he told the Gazette.

“To have a push, they have to change that as quickly as possible.

“Colchester got so close last year because of their great form during the run-in and if the same thing is going to happen this time, they need to kick into gear sooner rather than later.

“In fact, it’s got to happen now – not in three or four games, otherwise they run the risk of falling short again.

“Then we’ll be talking about ifs and buts.

“We see it year after year with the play-offs, where a team comes from nowhere to nick the last place after having a really good spurt of form.

“So often that team is then the one that gets promoted, because they’ve got momentum, whereas the side that finished third or fourth misses out because they’re so disappointed at not taking one of the automatic spots.

“Colchester need to start a run of wins and can’t prolong it any longer. It’s as simple as that.”

Izzet believes U’s boss John McGreal has successfully changed the club’s mentality and, by and large, made them a competitive, winning unit in League Two.

However, he also believes it is important to be realistic, because of the club’s limited finances compared to their rivals.

“John’s a real football man and he’s undoubtedly steadied the ship,” said Izzet.

“He had a difficult task in trying to turn the club’s losing mentality into a winning one and, aside from the last couple of results, I’d say he’s achieved that.

“The reality is that the club overachieved for so long, by being at a higher level.

“As a result, expectation levels increased.

“Money talks so much in football, though, and is the be all and end all.

“Manchester City aren’t the best team in the land just because of Pep Guardiola.

“It’s become they’ve spent fortunes and it’s the same for Manchester United.

“Don’t get me wrong – you need a good manager to spend the money wisely and it’s not impossible to have success with a limited budget. Just look at Leicester winning the Premier League and, currently, Burnley.

“However, it’s certainly far more difficult and that’s why we – and I say ‘we’ as a fan – are where we are.

“John’s done a good job in terms of stabilizing the club and in terms of their playing budget, the club are probably in exactly the right position in the table.

“The only way that budget is going to increase is if more people come through the gate, although I understand that then becomes a vicious circle because you’re only going to attract more people if you’re winning games and playing better football against better teams.”

Colchester play another of the struggling sides this weekend when they head to fourth-from-bottom, relegation-haunted Morecambe.

As in the last fortnight, the table might suggest a U’s victory.

However, Izzet knows from his own experiences that playing teams lower in the table can be a banana skin.

“It’s difficult when you play the so-called lesser sides,” he said.

“They can present a real stumbling block, as has happened against Crewe and Barnet.

“In our promotion year, there was always a different type of pressure against the sides you were expected to roll over.

“We’d often play poorly against them but were lucky that we were so clinical – we’d switch it on and score goals in a spell of ten to 15 minutes.

“We punished sides by taking our chances.

“The lower teams will set out to stop you playing.

“They want to frustrate you, stop you scoring and hit you on the counter-attack or from a set-piece.

“The best thing is to score early on and kill teams off but if that doesn’t happen everyone gets a bit edgy.”