“I’m not over-the-moon with my performance – Colchester United midfielder Tom Lapslie

Tom Lapslie in action at Wealdstone on Saturday

Tom Lapslie in action at Wealdstone on Saturday - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

Tom Lapslie is his own biggest critic.

Colchester United’s tenacious midfielder returned to the team, for Saturday’s FA Cup first round tussle, playing his part in a big 6-2 win over hosts Wealdstone.

It was Lapslie’s first start of the season, and he delivered a solid performance in the absence of fellow defensive midfielders Owen Garvan (ankle injury) and Joe Edwards (playing right-back instead).

However, the 20-year-old is demanding better things from himself, over the weeks and months ahead.

“It was a big day for me, being back in the team, and I enjoyed myself out there,” explained Lapslie.

“It’s been a long time, to be fair, so I just do what I do, and what I have been doing for the under-21s. It was nice to be back on the pitch.

“I don’t mind coming in for any game. Any game is going to be hard, and obviously it was a heavy pitch out there.

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“It was not the normal surface we are used to playing on, but it’s the same game. We’re in the next round and that’s all that matters.

“I’ve had to be patient here this season, and I’ve had to bide my time, obviously with Joe (Edwards) coming in, and also Garvs (Owen Garvan) coming in.

“But their arrivals have obviously just strengthened the squad.

“I just have to work hard and keep improving, bide my time and take my chance, which I hopefully did at Wealdstone.

“It wasn’t my finest performance, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not over-the-moon with my performance.

“But any game I will go away and look at what I did wrong, and what I did well.

“I’m probably more critical of myself than I should be.

“I’m nowhere near where I want to be at, but for the next game I have to make sure that I’m better than what I was today (at Wealdstone),” added Lapslie.

Last Saturday was, in fact, only Lapslie’s second senior appearance of the season. His only previous outing had been as a 75th minute substitute in the 5-0 defeat at Wigan.

It was the 14th first-team appearance of his career, following on from 12 games last season, all of them recorded following the turn of the year.

Lapslie had been hoping to start this season in the 18-man squad, at the very least, but a niggling foot injury pegged him back during August.

Furthermore, summer recruits Edwards (from Yeovil) and Garvan (free agent following his release from Crystal Palace) stiffened competition for places in the middle of the park.

“Just two or three days before the start of the season, I played for the reserves against Norwich, and ended up injuring my foot,” confirmed Lapslie.

“I thought it would take a week, but then it took two weeks and then it took four.

“It’s so frustrating when things like that happen, because I felt that I had enjoyed a good pre-season. I felt sharp.

“I always said last year that I felt I needed another pre-season under my belt, to be sharper. So it was disappointing that it had happened when it did, at the end of pre-season and before the season proper started.

“But these things happen. I’ve just kept my head down and worked hard.

“It’s up to the manager what team he picks for Coventry (this Saturday). I’m not complaining. I just have to wait for my opportunities.”

Lapslie paid tribute to fellow 20-year-old Macauley Bonne, who plundered four goals in the win at Wealdstone.

“Macca scored four goals, and yet he was in the changing room all quiet!” revealed Lapslie.

“I asked him – ‘why aren’t you buzzing?’ – but he was knackered. He just couldn’t walk or do any more.

“To be fair to him, he was just sitting there quietly.

“It was quite a young team out there, against Wealdstone, with several players coming through the Academy from the under-16s to the under-18s, and then the under-21s.

“So it was not alien to me. I’ve played with the likes of (Alex) Gilbey and played with Frankie (Kent) and Macca (Bonne) for many years.”

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