COLCHESTER United head coach Steve Ball is adamant his squad is strong enough for them to deal with their punishing League Two programme.

The home clash with Exeter City tonight is the second of 11 games in the space of just 35 days, for the U's.

Colchester have injury worries ahead of the visit of the Grecians, with skipper Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie and Ryan Clampin all doubtful for the behind-closed-doors clash.

However, left-back Josh Doherty is available again tonight and Ball says he will need to make use of his squad, during a hectic few weeks for the U's as they bid to return to form following a 12-match winless run.

Ball said: “We’re going to need them, that’s for sure.

“We tried to get the Tranmere game moved to a different date in April but that didn’t happen through the EFL so that now fits into March as well.

“We have to adapt and I think we have a good enough squad to do that."

Doherty missed Colchester's 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town last weekend as he was ineligible to play against his parent club.

The 24-year-old started two games for the U's after joining them on loan from the Reds but has been taken off with around 20 minutes remaining, in both matches.

“It’s just fitness, with Josh," said Ball.

“He hadn’t played for six weeks and he came on for the last half an hour in his last appearance, for Crawley.

“It’s difficult with the pitches and how they’ve been with the snow to really get up to speed.

“We knew coming in that he was a little short of 90-minute match fitness and hopefully now, he’ll be getting there very soon."

Clampin came off the bench in the second half to replace Doherty against both Mansfield Town and Leyton Orient.

However, the 22-year-old was unlucky out on featuring at Crawley after picking up an ankle injury in training, having impressed in each of his substitute appearances.

Ball added: “Has Ryan been a bit unfortunate? He thinks so and I want players that are disappointed at not playing.

“When he’s come on, he’s been very good and I thought he was very good against Mansfield.

“He made 20-odd appearances last year so he knows that I know that he can do it."