Colchester have swooped to sign defender Tom Aldred following his deadline-day release from Championship club Watford.
Aldred was a free agent having had his contract at Vicarage Road terminated by mutual consent on Wednesday, allowing the Us to make their move outside of the transfer window.
The 20-year-old had only recently returned from a loan stint at Scottish Premier League side Inverness but failed to make a first-team appearance for Watford since arriving at the Hertfordshire club last summer.
Signed from Carlisle, he also spent six weeks with Stockport last season.
Aldred has penned a two-year contract at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.