COLCHESTER United have been urged to use the disappointment of losing out in the play-offs as the catalyst for another promotion challenge, next season.

The U's agonisingly missed out reaching the League Two play-off final when they were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Exeter City in their semi-final, last week.

It was a heartbreaking way for what has been a memorable season for Colchester to end.

But U's academy coach and promotion winner Jamal Campbell-Ryce believes they can channel that heartache to drive them on to success, next time around.

Campbell-Ryce said: “You just use the disappointments to spur you on.

“Everybody knows that there are ups and downs, in football.

“Look at Liverpool – everybody thought that they were going to run away with it last year when they went on that run but Man City pipped them to the league.

“Now it’s come full circle this year and they’ve won the league.

“You just have to use things like that to drive you on and Liverpool have done that perfectly.

“Colchester want to progress too and it’s about taking those disappointments and using them in a positive way, because there’s a positive in every negative.

“Hopefully we can use this season to kick on and just go that extra five per cent.

“It’s been a strange and difficult time for everybody, during Covid.

“It was fantastic that the first team got into the play-offs and some of the boys had that experience, that they hadn’t experienced before.

“Unfortunately, we just fell a little bit short but it was a fantastic season for the boys and we were just a little bit unfortunate that they couldn’t make that last push and get to Wembley, where anything can happen.

“I’ve been keeping in touch with all of the staff regularly with the Zoom calls and stuff and always keeping up to date."

EFL clubs are facing an uncertain financial future, to the repercussions of Covid-19.

There is talk of a salary cap being introduced and it is widely expected that clubs will have to tighten their belts, to deal with their reduced matchday income.

However, Campbell-Ryce believes the proven strength of Colchester's academy could stand them in good stead, for what might be around the corner.

He said: “I think the chairman (Robbie Cowling) deserves a huge amount of credit, because he’s put so much into the Academy and believes in it so much and wants to play so many of the young boys.

“It might be that clubs have to do that more now and in that, it’s almost like he’s a step ahead of the rest because they’ve been prepping these players for however many years and now they’re really going to get their opportunity.

“Other clubs don’t really rely on their Academy and want to bring in players from the outside so hopefully, that puts us in good stead and a little bit ahead of the other teams."

"Hopefully the future is bright for these young players at Colchester.

“Kwame Poku has had a fantastic season and he’s a great prospect.

“I know he started at Millwall but coming from Worthing, he’s hit the ground running.

“I think he’s got a bright future, in front of him.

“Ryan Clampin is another youngster who’s had a great season and I think he’s played about 20 games this year, which is fantastic for a debut season.

“Noah Chilvers is a great talent and one to watch for the future and Ollie Kensdale has also been involved this year."