Another keeper signs for U's

JIMMY Walker is set to become the third keeper used by Colchester United this season, following his arrival on loan yesterday.

Carl Marston

Colchester soccer

By Carl Marston

JIMMY Walker is set to become the third keeper used by Colchester United this season, following his arrival on loan yesterday.

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And Walker insisted last night that the move “felt right,” even though he had several offers elsewhere.

Veteran custodian Walker, who was a key figure in denying Ipswich Town a return to the Premiership in 2005, is set to make his U's debut at Northampton Town tomorrow.

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The 35-year-old former Walsall stalwart was in goal for West Ham when the Londoners beat Town 4-2 on aggregate in the Championship play-off semi-final.

He actually scored an own goal in the first leg, which ended in a 2-2 draw at Upton Park - Tommy Miller's free-kick, on the stroke of half-time, sneaked into the net via the post and Walker's body. Bobby Zamora scored twice as the Hammers won the second leg 2-0 at Portman Road.

The play-off final was a bitter-sweet experience for Walker - he kept a clean-sheet as West Ham beat Preston 1-0 to reach the Premier League, although he also damaged cruciate ligaments with just three minutes remaining, which put his career on hold for the best part of a year.

Walker finally achieved a life-time ambition when making three appearances in the top flight, towards the end of the following season (2005-06), and he also sat on the bench during the Hammers defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.

His made his Premier League debut in the 4-2 defeat by Portsmouth in March, 2006, and made his third and last senior outing in the 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool on May 26, 2006.

But he has not played a senior game for two-and-a-half-years. Robert Green is the No. 1 choice at Upton Park, while fellow keepers Jan Lastovka and Marek Stech are also on the books.

Now, though, he has a chance to dust off his gloves and help to steer the U's up the League One table.

Manager Paul Lambert has taken a look at both Dean Gerken and Mark Cousins during his first seven weeks at the Community Stadium - Gerken has played six games and Cousins three.

But the Scotsman has taken steps to bolster this department, by signing a keeper with bags of experience.

Walker enthused last night: “I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

“Hopefully, we can get some victories under our belt and I can help the team keep the ball out of the net. I had a few offers but this is the one that felt right.”

Tomorrow's hosts Northampton also signed a keeper last night - young German Ron-Robert Zieler on loan from Manchester United.

Current Cobblers keeper Frank Fielding will have to return to Blackburn later this month, because his loan deal expires, although he should retain his place against the U's. Zieler could well be on the bench.

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