COLCHESTER United’s new recruit, Josh Thompson, knows all about dealing with pressure, having played in the Old Firm derby as a teenager.

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Thompson was snapped up on loan from Portsmouth last week, and was on the bench to witness the U’s blow a 2-0 lead in the 3-2 defeat at Crewe Alexandra.

The 6ft 4ins centre-half could well make his U’s debut today, at home to struggling Bury, though most probably from the bench.

Although still aged only 21, a relatively young age for a central defender (the same applies to current U’s defender Tom Eastman), Thompson can draw on bags of experience accrued at several other clubs, most notably Celtic.

That’s why he is ready and waiting for his chance with the League One U’s.

“I’m fit, and I’m ready to play,” enthused Thompson, before Thursday’s training session.

“I met the boys at the hotel last Friday, and was at the (Crewe) game on Saturday.

“I had my first full day of training with them on Wednesday. It was very high intensity, and you could tell there was a reaction from the boys following the weekend disappointment.”

Thompson left Stockport County, his boyhood club, to complete a dream move to Celtic in the summer of 2009, under Tony Mowbray’s new regime.

Despite his tender years, and the big step up from Edgeley Park to Celtic Park, Thompson went on to make 21 senior appearances for the green-and-white hoops during his first season in Scotland.

The following two campaigns, he had loan spells with Rochdale, Peterborough and Chesterfield, before making the brave decision to leave Glasgow and join cash-strapped Portsmouth last summer.

Referring to his initial dream move to Celtic, Thompson recalled: “The summer after I broke into the Stockport team, Tony Mowbray took me on trial, initially to West Brom for a week.

“I wanted something to happen there, but then he (Mowbray) moved north of the border to Celtic.

“I suppose he was a fan of mine. I thought it would be a good place for me to improve my game, and so it proved.

“I played a few games in the second half of the season, due to a few injuries, so I got my opportunity maybe earlier than I had thought.

“Playing against Rangers at Ibrox (1-0 defeat on February 28, 2010), was a highlight. It felt like a whole different world!

“You hear about it, but to be involved in it is something else. Hopefully, such an experience will hold me in good stead for the rest of my career.

“It certainly gave me an early idea of how to play under pressure,” added Thompson.

Bolton-born Thompson is not ruling out extending his stay with the U’s beyond this month.

He continued: “Colchester play the same way I like to play, getting on the ball. The manager (Joe Dunne) encourages this, and that was a reason for me coming here.

“It’s initially just a loan, but there’s no telling what will happen after that. We will have to evaluate at the end of the month’s loan.”

The U’s go into today’s game on the back of three straight defeats while Bury, despite being in the relegation zone, have won four of their last five fixtures under new manager Kevin Blackwell.

U’s boss Joe Dunne could well name an unchanged side from last weekend’s reverse at Crewe.

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