Ben looks to the long haul

“MY season starts now!” – so insists Colchester United keeper Ben Williams.

“MY season starts now!” – so insists Colchester United keeper Ben Williams.

Forced to sit out the U’s first nine games of the season, due to a combination of his own poor health and then the form of fellow keeper Mark Cousins, it is now time for Williams to cement his place in the starting line-up again.

Cousins missed last weekend’s 1-0 home win over Walsall, due to an injured shoulder, paving the way for Williams’ return to the side. He celebrated be keeping the U’s first clean-sheet of the campaign.

And the former Carlisle custodian will keep his place away at Chesterfield tomorrow, because Cousins looks set to be sidelined for another week or two.

“I’m hoping that having missed the first eight or nine games, that’s me back for the season now,” insisted Williams yesterday.

“I want to keep more clean-sheets and get us up the table.

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“As I said to my friends and family after Saturday’s game – ‘my season starts now’ – it’s a 35 or 36 game season for me.”

A regular in the U’s side for the majority of the previous two seasons, following his move from Carlisle, Williams was hit hard by a mystery virus over the summer, contracted during the pre-season tour to Holland.

By his own admission, he under-estimated the seriousness of the illness.

“They couldn’t identify what virus it was, but it was something that knocked me for six,” explained Williams.

“I probably didn’t appreciate how bad it was until I came back and started training again. I then began to realise how weak I was.

“I thought at the time that I was ready to play. But it’s like anything, like having the flu, you just think that you’re going to shake it off.

“But that wasn’t the case. I had 10 days in hospital and then when I came back it was just very light stuff, with some jogging. I was tired, and that’s not usually me. However, I now feel fine.”

Williams, 29, put his recent illness in some perspective, by referring to the bout of meningitis that struck him down in 2006.

“That was the toughest time of my career, five or six years ago when I was Crewe and I got meningitis,” continued Williams.

“The doctors were telling my parents that I might not pull through, let alone play football again! But within there months, I was back fit.”

n Colchester United boss John Ward revealed that a decision on the fitness of striker Steven Gillespie, who missed last weekend’s game due to a sore hamstring, will be made today.

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