Senior loves playing with a smile on his face

A pat on the back for Courtney Senior from his boss John McGreal after being substituted in the seco

A pat on the back for Courtney Senior from his boss John McGreal after being substituted in the second half of last weekend's 2-0 win over Newport County. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Courtney Senior is one of those players who plays with a smile on his face. He clearly loves playing football, and he has a potentially exciting career ahead of him.

Courtney Senior celebrates opening the scoring for the U's, in the 2-2 draw at Port Vale from a for

Courtney Senior celebrates opening the scoring for the U's, in the 2-2 draw at Port Vale from a fortnight ago. He is congratulated by Sean Murray. Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

A recent addition to the Colchester United first-team squad, after a long struggle against injuries, Senior produced a man-of-the-match display during last weekend’s 2-0 win over Newport County, and he will be looking to replicate that dazzling performance on the road at Carlisle United tomorrow.

His manager, John McGreal, has told him to go out and play “with a smile” on his face, but that just comes naturally to a young player who even sports a beaming smile during press interviews.

“Everything is going well for me at the moment,” enthused Senior.

“I’m getting starts, and I’m also coming off the bench to have an affect on games.

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“I think the players are loving me at the moment, although I’ve found it quite hard negotiating the step up to the first team.

“It’s a big step up, but I am enjoying it and just doing my best, as I do at every level.

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“It’s all about been as effective as I can, going forward.

“The gaffer has told me to literally enjoy the game, to go out and have some fun, and to play with a smile on my face.

“My main strength is getting forward. The defensive side of the game does not come as naturally to me, but I know that the defensive side is a big part of the game as well.

“The boys are all friendly and I love being around the first-team environment. Someone like Pross (Luke Prosser) has encouraged me and told me to keep my head up. He has belief in me, and that gives me a little boost.

“Laps (Tom Lapslie) also gives me words of advise, telling me to go right or left,” added Senior.

A product of Brentford’s Academy, Senior signed for the U’s on a two-year deal during the summer of 2016, having played just once for the Bees first team (League Cup tie against Oxford United in August, 2015) and also once during an earlier loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers.

The 20-year-old suffered a huge setback, within weeks of signing for the U’s, when he suffered a knee injury in pre-season which required surgery in August, 2016.

That effectively ended attacker Senior’s season, before it had even started.

He returned to fitness for the start of this term, and made an immediate impression on his U’s debut, as an 85th minute substitute against Forest Green Rovers on August 26.

Senior tapped home his first senior goal in that cameo appearance, an injury-time goal in a 5-1 home win, but joy turned to frustration when he tweaked a hamstring before the final whistle.

“The knee injury was a killer, but I came into this pre-season flying,” confirmed Senior.

“I got injured after scoring on my debut, which kept me out for three weeks. I came back for a couple of weeks but then tweaked my other hammy (hamstring) which meant another three weeks out.

“But since then I’ve been fine, and felt really good. I think these injury setbacks can even be good for you, because it makes you focus more when you get back, to avoid getting injuries by doing all the pre-session work.”

Cryodon-born Senior returned for the league defeat at Wycombe, and was a half-time substitute during the 1-1 home draw against Grimsby Town three weeks ago, when he played a big role in the U’s recovering from a woeful first-half display.

Senior’s first start, and fourth U’s league outing, led to him scoring an early goal in a 2-2 draw at Port Vale, and he followed this up with a terrific performance against Newport County, when he set up debutant Ben Stevenson’s opening goal with a wonderful run and accurate low cross.

Now he is looking to carry on where he left off, at Carlisle tomorrow.

“It’s a long trip, being on the coach for six or seven hours, but it’s another game and if I start I’ll be looking to make an impression, just as it I come off the bench then I’ll be looking to make an impact,” continued Senior.

“I know that the fans have been excited by my style of play, and that’s the way I like to play. I like that feeling.

“I like to play with freedom, that’s a big part of my game. I’m feeling confident, and I’m feeling strong,” added Senior.

The U’s first win in seven games, over Newport, following a winless run of four draws and two defeats, leaves them just three places and five points adrift of the play-off zone, with 15 fixtures still remaining.

Tomorrow’s hosts Carlisle are five points behind the U’s, in 13th position.

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