Colchester United head coach John McGreal has revealed the reason for club captain Luke Prosser's omission from his starting line-up against Barnet.

The experienced centre-back had started each of the U’s previous four games in League Two, prior to their 1-0 defeat to the Bees at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last weekend.

Prosser, who made a long-awaited return to first-team action last month after a 15-month lay-off due to a knee injury, was an unused substitute for the match and was replaced by Ryan Inniss at the heart of Colchester’s defence.

McGreal says the former Southend United player was left on the bench to help protect his fitness, ahead of the final two months of the campaign.

McGreal said: “Luke has had 15 months out without kicking a ball.

“He’s then had five 90-minute games in a two-week window and it’s one where we don’t want him to break down on us, because he’s a pivotal player.

“We wanted to give him a little bit of time to recover and it was down to that, rather than anything to do with the game or who we were playing.”

McGreal admits Colchester have to quickly draw a line under their dismal performance against bottom club Barnet – and insists they still have something to play for this season.

The U’s have dropped further behind in the race to clinch a League Two play-off spot and lie seven points off the top-seven places with 11 games remaining.

Colchester make the long trip up to play fourth-from-bottom side Morecambe this weekend, desperate for points to boost their slim hopes of promotion.

McGreal added: “We still feel that we have something to play for, this season.

“We still believe we have an opportunity.

“We’ve got a different game next weekend and I’m hoping we’ll get a reaction – I’m sure we will.

“There weren’t any positives to come out of it (the Barnet game) and I’m not going to dress it up.

“We’ve got to draw a line under it and move forward.
“We can’t go from one extreme here against Coventry in our last home game to that performance (against Barnet).

“We looked a young, naïve team out there at times.

“It’s one where we need to try and adapt to it, because we have a similar game coming against Morecambe.”