Dan Potts owes much to Colchester United and the 19-year-old left-back is not about to forget it.

Though five successive defeats hardly sounds like the dream loan spell, Dan Potts' six-week stint with the U's culminated in him being drafted into West Ham United's first XI.

Some seven months on and Dan Potts has figured in all three of the Hammers' pre-season fixtures to date, as he prepares to return to the Weston Homes Community Stadium for Tuesday's clash.

"It was a great experience for me, even though results went against us," he exclusively told whufc.com. "Going out on loan and playing first-team football is vital experience. You have to deal with the pressures of the league and I enjoyed every minute of it.

"Having been there it gives me a little heads up of what we can expect, but we'll go there and play our own game. For sure I'm looking forward to going back there. Hopefully I'll be involved and put on a good show.

"It'll be really good to see the gaffer Joe Dunne, he was great for me and I've got a huge amount of respect for him as a manager. He did well in the end as well, managing to keep them up."

After turning out in a 3-0 New Year's Day reverse at Crawley Town, Potts was recalled two days later, before starting in the epic 2-2 FA Cup with Budweiser draw against Manchester United on 5 January.

"It was a bit of a whirlwind of a week but one that I won't forget, for sure," he continued. "You can't replicate playing first-team football. My time at Colchester stood me in good stead for last season and hopefully long term as well."

For now, Potts will be hoping to dislodge summer acquisition Razvan Rat from the left-back spot, though the teenager is glad to have the experienced Romanian on board.

"He's settled in very well. Obviously, he's a very clever lad. He speaks fluent English and has fitted straight into the team.

"He's a very professional, very experienced player and someone I'd definitely look up to, with all his Champions League experience. Being the captain of his national team as well, he's definitely a good role model."

Rat and Potts will likely enjoy another outing in Colchester on Tuesday, as the Hammers bid to make it four wins out of four in pre-season. Results aside, Potts insists that these first-team run-outs are precious, with each bringing another opportunity to impress.

"It's in these games, where the onus is on the physical side of things, that you can try things, different set plays and experiment with things in your game, especially as a young player. Going out there, expressing yourself and showing what you can do.

"Of course it's a matter of getting through the games, but at the same time you want to get back into what you know best, what you do and getting that consistent level of performance."