COLCHESTER United may have lost on Tuesday night, but the signs remain positive that the U’s will escape relegation this season.

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Joe Dunne’s men were edged out 1-0 by high-flying Swindon Town, after winning their previous two games against Walsall and at Portsmouth.

As a result, they are now just two points clear of the drop zone, with 16 games remaining. But the U’s are no longer playing like a team who are wondering where their next point is going to come from, let alone their next victory.

The recent disastrous run of nine straight defeats, an unwanted club record, has been kicked into the long grass.

They have a fresh impetus, and the large number of January signings has certainly made a big impact, particularly striker Jabo Ibehre, keeper Sam Walker, midfielders David Wright and Billy Clifford, and winger George Porter.

“I must pay my players credit for sticking at it,” enthused Dunne, after the 1-0 defeat to Swindon.

“Our keeper (Sam Walker) made some good saves at the end, because we needed to go for it and so left ourselves open.

“We’re doing OK with our (current) five-game plan. We’ve won two and lost one, so we are OK. There were a lot of positives to take from this match.

“Despite the defeat, I’m pleased overall and I think it gives us a big platform for Saturday,” added Dunne, with reference to tomorrow’s visit of Preston.

The transfer window reopens, for emergency loans, from today, and Dunne remains keen on recruiting one new player.

“I’ve got one player I am trying to bring in,” confirmed Dunne.

“I spoke to the club and they know the situation, otherwise I am happy with the squad.

“It would be a youth loan, to add to the squad, rather than guaranteeing games. I think this environment will benefit the player, coming from a Premier League club.”

The left-back position looks the most likely in need of strengthening, following the departures of Michael Rose and Ben Coker (both released).

John White has impressed at left-back over the last three games, but there is no specialist cover for him.

Dunne could name an unchanged side against Preston.

The Lilywhites have tumbled down the League One table after winning just one of their last 12 league games, and are now just six points clear of the U’s.

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