Colchester United keeper Sam Walker is a century-maker
Sam Walker, arguably Colchester United’s most successful performer over the last two years, is set to celebrate his 100th appearance in a U’s shirt this afternoon.
The ever-dependable Walker, who marked his U’s debut with a clean-sheet in a 2-0 home win over Walsall on January 26, 2013, will be hoping to secure another shut-out in today’s home game against relegation rivals Crewe Alexandra.
The 23-year-old ex-Chelsea trainee has been a virtual ever-present in those last two years, signing a permanent deal at the beginning of 2014, after two previous loan stays.
“I was told only this morning that this was going to be my 100th appearance for the club on Saturday,” revealed Walker.
“It’s come about so quickly. It only seems like yesterday that I was coming through the doors and playing my first game, at home to Walsall.
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“It’s been a rollercoaster ever since, there’s been some ups and some downs, but all-in-all I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve loved every minute.
“I’ve been virtually ever-present, which is something that I’m very please with, and also proud. The main reason for that is the work I have put in, and my performances which I think have been fairly consistent, which is the aim of any goalkeeper.
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“And primarily, the one thing I am really pleased with is the lack of injuries. When I was 17 or 18, I was getting lots of injuries, when I was growing into myself. I had several back injuries and a hernia, lots of little niggling injuries.
“But since I’ve been at Colchester, I’ve come into myself and done a lot of work with George Bankole (goalkeeping coach).
“We have always had a very strong goalkeeping unit here, with Mark Cousins before and Chris Lewington now, as well as Shaun Phillips and James Brangrove, both two good young goalkeepers.
“George pushes us as hard as possible. We are always the first out there training,” added Walker.
Gravesend-born Walker, who was at Chelsea for four years without ever making a league appearance for the Premier League outfit, has played a major role in keeping the U’s in League One, over the last two years.
And he is ready to make it a hat-trick of successful relegation escape acts, having kept his eighth clean-sheet of the season in the U’s previous home game, a 2-0 win over struggling Leyton Orient.
“Saturday is a massive game,” admitted Walker.
“The fact that Crewe are just one point and one place above us, does make it a big game. But we are full of confidence in what has been a very good January.
“We are playing well, and our new additions (new signings Chris Porter, Matt Briggs and Jack Marriott) have settled in very quickly.
“The last home game (Leyton Orient) has also put to bed a little of the jitters we have had recently,” added Walker, with reference to the previous five home league defeats on the bounce.
Walker continued: “I feel that I have progressed over these last few years, and have got a decent amount of experience behind me. I’m also one of the longest serving players in the team, so I think I have grown in stature, and that all comes with confidence.”
Walker has only missed one game this season, sitting out the Capital One Cup tie at Charlton, to give his deputy Chris Lewington a solitary run-out.
Centre-half Tom Eastman is the only U’s player to have a better record, having played in every game this term.
Walker added: “I’ve played pretty much every game with Tom (Eastman) since I’ve been here. He had a little spell of injury last season, but other than that we have both been virtually ever-present.
“We pride ourselves on that consistency.”