Tom Eastman welcomes the return of Kurtis Guthrie and Craig Slater to the Colchester United squad

Tom Eastman goes down following a tackle by Wycombe's Nathan Tyson. This was Eastman's last appearan

Tom Eastman goes down following a tackle by Wycombe's Nathan Tyson. This was Eastman's last appearance before a hamstring injury, but he should return this weekend. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Tom Eastman believes that the return of Kurtis Guthrie and Craig Slater, from long-term injuries, could spark Colchester United’s season into life.

Guthrie and Slater both enjoyed run-outs during the Checkatrade Trophy (1-0) defeat to Gillingham on Tuesday night, and both are in tomorrow’s squad to face Mansfield.

Eastman himself is also back in the fold, after sitting out the last three matches with a sore hamstring, so the U’s are beginning to have a stronger look about them, going into the second quarter of the season.

“We’ve been without (Kurtis) Guthrie for a while. He was a massive player for us last year,” explained Eastman.

“Slates (Slater) has been a bit in-and-out for us, but he’s another important player to have back in the squad.

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“Hopefully, Kurtis can get back on that goal-scoring form (12 goals in 32 league games last season), and that Slates can run the midfield. Then we will hopefully win more games.”

Front-runner Guthrie originally damaged his ankle at the end of February, which kept him out of action for seven months, while Slater has been dogged by groin and more recently hip problems since last Spring.

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As regards his own injury problems, Eastman said: “My first proper day’s training was on Thursday, and it feels fine.

“I had a slight tear in my hamstring. I felt it a little bit before the game,against Wycombe, and I felt it a bit more during the game. I came off because of it.

”So I had a week-and-a-bit off it, and I’m ready for the weekend. I just missed three games, and I’m looking forward to the game now.”

Eastman is relishing the challenge of Steve Evans’ physically-strong Mansfield side.

“Mansfield are a big, physical team. Their manager likes strong teams who play a direct style of play. They like to be in your faces,” confirmed Eastman.

“But we did quite well against them last year, with a win and a draw, so hopefully we can win at home again this weekend.

“We just need to counter their strength with our own movement.

“Out home form has been good over the last couple of years, and this is a good chance to get back on the track after the defeat to Wycombe.

“Overall, it’s not been the best of starts to the season. We’ve been too inconsistent,” added Eastman.

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