FOREST Green defender Liam Shephard has called on his teammates to believe in themselves ahead of tonight's tough trip to Colchester United.

Shephard returned to action from the bench at Morecambe on Saturday after a spell on the sidelines.

The Welshman feels the team are suffering from a lack of confidence but insists they are good enough to make the play-offs and has called for more belief.

"With three games in a week it was the right decision to ease your way back in and 20 minutes was perfect. I got the ball, felt a bit sharper, took players on and that's what I wanted.

"I felt a bit like we've lost a bit of confidence," said Shephard.

"You see people doing things they wouldn't really do when they're full of confidence. They're stuck in two minds.

"But we can't really put our finger on what's really going wrong.

"I think the boys need to believe there's hope for us to still make the play-offs and once we do that we'll be in the play-offs, we're that good. It's just finding the confidence.

"It's the first time this season we've gone on a bad run, it's the first experience of this to happen so it's just how people deal with it."

Rovers will be boosted by Shephard's return to fitness. They have won just 17% of their matches when he hasn't started.

Shephard isn't taking any credit though but is hoping his return can give the rest of the squad a lift.

"I never really thought about it to be honest," he revealed.

"I did play the Swindon and Notts County games to be honest. It's good to be back and I'm going to try and rally the boys on. We've just got to be positive and make sure people believe in themselves."

Ninth place Forest Green are only two points off the play-offs. Tonight's opponents Colchester are three points ahead in sixth and Shephard feels facing them and Carlisle United, who are also in the play-off mix presents them a great opportunity to climb straight back in.

"That's what we're trying to get across to the boys," said Shephard.

"No matter how bad the defeat was on Saturday, we're still in there. If we beat Colchester 2-0 and then Carlisle on Saturday we go above them and then they're chasing us so it's all about believing in ourselves."

The 24-year-old is now facing competition from 18-year-old Udoka Godwin-Malife who impressed on his full debut at Morecambe and Shephard was full of praise for the youngster.

"I thought he did really well," he commented.

"No one got past him, he got forward and put a couple of crosses in the box and I thought he did really well.

"Healthy competition for me. Makes me not slack off ."