RYAN Jackson believes he played the best football of his career to date at Colchester United. And the experienced right-back feels he is joining Gillingham a better player than when he left them.

The 30-year-old is set to face his former club today when the U's host the Gills at the JobServe Community Stadium in a pre-season friendly, played behind closed doors.

Jackson completed a move to Gillingham earlier this month, having been told by the U’s that his contract would not be renewed in the wake of the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

He spent three seasons at Colchester and feels he improved as a player, in that time.

Jackson said: “I think I played three years of my best football at Colchester and I’ve learnt a lot since joining them.

“I’m a better player now than I was when I joined them so hopefully, I can show that and help the Gillingham squad push towards what they’re trying to achieve.

“We had a lot of quality in the Colchester squad in all areas.

“Everyone in that squad could and should be playing higher; it’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t have done it at Colchester.

“It just goes to show the quality of the squad.

“We worked so hard and had such a good team spirit.

“Everyone had worked so hard and it would have been great to have got promoted with that group that we’ve built such a good bond with.

“But that’s football and it just wasn’t meant to be."

Jackson spent two seasons at Gillingham between 2015 and 2017, making 80 league and cup appearances for the Gills in that period.

Now he is looking forward to playing under Steve Evans and helping them challenge, in League One.

Jackson added: “When you’re moving to a new club, you want to familiarise yourself with the surroundings, the players and the fans but I’ve already been here and know good the fans are.

“I haven’t played under the new gaffer, Steve Evans but I’ve played against his sides a few times and I know he’s a winner.

“He likes to push his boys to the limit.

“When I went into League Two with Colchester three years ago, it didn’t really feel like a drop to be honest because of the quality of player we had and the level of football we played in the games.

“It made it enjoyable and I enjoyed my time playing but whereas we just missed out in the play-offs, I feel like it’s only right I should be playing back in League One."