ETHAN Ross admits it was a tough decision to leave Colchester United.

And the 23-year-old goalkeeper says his strong rapport with the U’s made his departure from the club even more difficult.

Ross has quit Colchester to join League One outfit Lincoln City on a one-year deal, bringing the curtain down on his two-year stint at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The former West Brom keeper was a popular figure among the U’s supporters during his time at the U’s – and Ross says that made leaving the club a difficult decision.

Ross said: “It was a tough decision to leave and the fans were a big part of that but I had to do what’s right for me and my career.

“It was the right thing to do but it doesn’t make it any easier, leaving the club where you have relations with everybody but especially the fans.

"I’ve got nothing but good words to say about the Colchester fans.

“They were absolutely brilliant for me - I hadn’t played any Football League games before joining Colchester so the fans were probably as nervous as I was, on my first game.

“I hope that I showed them what I’m capable of and I did them proud for the club.

“I could always hear all of the lads up in the corner in S1 and behind the goal shouting encouragement and good words.

“I’ve had a lot of nice messages from the fans when I left which was great and me and my family really appreciated that – a massive thank you to them.

“A fresh start was what I needed but I really, really enjoyed my time at Colchester.

“I enjoyed going into work every day and the rapport that I built up with everyone around the club but especially the fans.

“That made it a hard decision for me but ultimately, the big thing for me was I want to try and play more football.

“Over the couple of years I was at the club, I didn’t play as much as I wanted and a fresh start was what I needed really.

“When a club like Lincoln comes in with an offer, it’s hard to turn down.

“They’re a great club with a lot of history and they’re trying to promote young players.

“It’s obviously a big change for me but I’m really looking forward to it and seeing where this season with Lincoln takes me.”

Ross made eight appearances for Colchester but his game time this season was limited following the arrival of experienced keeper Dean Gerken from Ipswich Town, last summer.

“I knew the situation especially this season with Gerks,” said Ross.

“He’s a top class goalkeeper and I understood that when he came down from the Championship, he wasn’t coming down to sit on the bench.

“It’s always going to be tough ask to get past such a good goalkeeper who has such a good pedigree in the game.

“Gerks was absolutely fantastic for me.

“He’s a really good pal of mine and he’s helped me out a lot with little things, out on the training ground.

“I feel that working with Gerks and Smudge (goalkeeper coach Darren Smith) I’ve felt myself come on nicely in the last year or so.

“As much as I didn’t have the games that I wanted, I still feel like I was making progress.

“But especially as a goalkeeper, you want that opportunity to show what you’ve been working on day in, day out in training.

“I don’t have any regrets about my time at Colchester – I’m really happy with how it all went but it would have been just nice to have got a few more games.

“That was the only low point for me really; not getting the games I work hard for but it’s always going to be tough when you’ve got Gerks who is technically outstanding and really experienced.”