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Play-offs are ‘still achievable’ insists Colchester United keeper Sam Walker

PUBLISHED: 08:14 03 March 2018

U's keeper Sam Walker, at full stretch to make a save during the 3-1 home win over Exeter in December.  Picture: STEVE WALLER

U's keeper Sam Walker, at full stretch to make a save during the 3-1 home win over Exeter in December. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Colchester United might be on a rotten run of results, but their experienced keeper, Sam Walker, has no doubt that this stuttering season can still be rescued.

Sam Walker, who has played 204 league games for the U's so far, but is still well behind namesake Mike Walker (451 games) and fellow keeper Percy Ames (397). Picture: STEVE WALLER Sam Walker, who has played 204 league games for the U's so far, but is still well behind namesake Mike Walker (451 games) and fellow keeper Percy Ames (397). Picture: STEVE WALLER

Walker has had precious little to do during the U’s last couple of matches, and yet John McGreal’s men have still slid to 1-0 defeats, at the hands of lowly Crewe and Barnet, to seriously dent their League Two play-off hopes.

Any chance of a quickfire return to form, and winning ways, has been scuppered by this weekend’s postponement of the scheduled trip to Morecambe, another of the clubs floundering at the wrong end of League Two.

But the U’s 26-year-old custodian remains upbeat.

“The mood in the camp is still good,” insisted Walker, who chalked up his 204th senior appearance for the U’s last weekend.

“Personally, I come in on a Monday with a positive attitude to crack the week ahead, and the rest of the squad are also like that.

“We all have a steely determination to put in a good performance in our next match, creating chances and hopefully taking those chances to win the game.

“There are still plenty of points available for us to get into the play-offs, 33 in all, and I still believe it is more than achievable.

“We’ve already had a good run this season, before Christmas, and I’m sure we can do that again.

“We are more than capable of getting the points to force our way into those play-offs,” added Walker.

The U’s keeper has certainly not dwelt on last Saturday’s sub-standard display, against bottom club Barnet, a result which left the U’s trailing the top seven by a distant seven points.

“It’s got to be a given that we bounce back,” continued Walker.

“We’ve had a really poor couple of weeks and two poor results. There’s been a lot of talking and a lot of assessing about how we’ve gone wrong, but now it’s time for our performance to do the talking. It’s actions rather than words now.

“I like to try and get rid of a poor result, as soon as possible. The last two weekends have been pretty miserable, especially the home loss last weekend, and that’s on your mind on Saturday night and all day Sunday.

“But then the following week you try to put a positive spin on things and look forward to getting back out there.

“All you want to do is to put that poor performance behind you, and look to put it right in the next match,” added Walker.

At least yesterday’s postponement, following a midday pitch inspection of Morecambe’s Globe Arena playing surface, avoided any unnecessary journey to the north-west.

John McGreal’s men were saved a wasted round trip, amounting to 570 miles, and many hours of sitting on a coach, and so should be fresh to build up to their next test, a tough-looking trip to promotion-chasing Mansfield Town next Saturday.

The Stags appointed David Flitcroft as their new manager on Thursday, following his departure from Swindon Town.

It was part of the familiar manager merry-go-round which had already seen Steve Evans resign as Mansfield boss on Tuesday, to take over the helm at League One Peterborough United.

Mansfield’s match at Stevenage was one of seven League Two fixtures to be postponed yesterday – Newport’s home clash with Accrington had already been called off on Thursday – to leave them in fifth spot, two points adrift of the top three.

As for the 12th-placed U’s, Walker has enjoyed another good season as the last line of defence, keeping 10 clean-sheets in 35 league games and ensuring that the Essex club have the eighth best defensive record in the division.

But it is at the other end where McGreal’s side have tended to struggle, in terms of scoring goals. They have not scored in their last couple of fixtures and are only 11th in the highest goal-scorer charts in League Two.

On a personal note, former Chelsea apprentice Walker is well on course to complete an ever-present campaign for the third season of his career.

He was ever-present in the 46 league games of 2013-14, missed just one league game the following season, and returned from a year-long knee injury to play all 46 league games last term.

Walker is now the U’s second longest serving senior player, behind defender Tom Eastman, although his impressive 204 league appearances is still some way behind the U’s two most loyal keepers of the past.

Mike Walker chalked up 451 league games between 1973 and 1983, and Percy Ames totalled 397 matches from 1955 to 1965.

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Two Ipswich Town stars will be looking to take a big step towards this summer’s World Cup over the next week while a host of younger players look to further their international careers.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been impressed by Ipswich stopper Bartosz Bialkowski following his first call-up to the Polish national team.

Luton boss Nathan Jones is disappointed to lose the services of midfielder Flynn Downes due to international duty but is pleased to see the Ipswich Town youngster continue his development with England Under 19s.

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