STUART McCall says he is as excited for the League Two kick-off as any of the new managers in the division.

Valley Parade opponents Colchester are one of seven clubs who have made a change at the top since last season’s early finish.

There are also plenty of reshuffled squads as the lower levels get to grips with the changing financial picture with the salary cap and COVID forcing games to be played behind closed doors.

But the same buzz is still there for McCall as City prepare to start again at their empty home.

He said: “Some teams have got in young, upcoming managers who are naturally hungry and desperate to do well.

“That doesn’t mean to say the old codgers like myself aren’t the same. It couldn’t be further from the truth on that one.

“We’re all ready for it. We’ve been waiting six months.

“Six weeks ago, we were just desperate to get into pre-season and onto the training ground.

“Now we’re desperate to get our first league match underway.

“The excitement, desire and commitment is there from everyone at the club.

“That’s not just the playing staff but those surrounding the club who are working ever so hard to get the games on, to be thorough in what we do behind the scenes.

“We’ve got a tight-knit unit on the coaching staff and a tight-knit unit at the ground.

“But everyone gives full commitment to the club and hopefully hard work can pay off.”

Colchester made the play-offs last season before going out to Exeter in the semi-finals. But the long lay-off and very different environment teams are coming back into makes predictions difficult.

McCall stressed that City’s aims will remain within the dressing room walls.

But he added: “We’re looking at the squads and changes to certain teams. A couple of clubs have recently started bringing in more players, like Grimsby who had to bring a lot in and have done that.

“There will be additions to squads between now and the window closing and it’s the same with ours.

“Look at Bolton last week and a whole team of debutants, although obviously we know people who have played against us like (Antoni) Sarcevic and Ali Crawford.

“It’s hard to judge at the moment what sides are going to be up there.

“For me, Salford and certainly Bolton come to mind as strong favourites to be right up there with the recruitment they’ve done. But there are always surprises.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves. We are happy with the way things are going at the moment.

“There’s lots of room for improvement but we’re on the right lines.”

McCall would love to see a packed Valley Parade again but the possible return of some fans, pencilled in for early October, could be delayed now after the rise in cases.

He said: “Of course we’d like 15-16,000 fans roaring us on.

“We’ve got a way that we want to play and I’m sure with the supporters behind us we’d have been really at it.

“We are going to be anyway but we’ll deal with it for now. We’re all in the same mindset that the sooner we can get fans back into grounds, the better – especially at our place where they can make a massive difference.”