Colchester United No. 1 Sam Walker winning his fitness battle

Thumbs up: U's keeper Sam Walker

Thumbs up: U's keeper Sam Walker - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

Sam Walker insists that he is on course to line up for Colchester United’s first league game of the season, at home to Blackpool on August 8, despite a summer struggle with a sore knee.

Walker played through the pain barrier to help the U’s avoid relegation during the closing matches of last season.

The ex-Chelsea trainee, perhaps the most important player in Tony Humes’ first-team squad, had initially injured his knee during the away game at Coventry on April 11.

He missed the next game, a 6-0 thrashing at Chesterfield, but returned to play in the final four games, including the dramatic final day 1-0 home win over Preston.

Walker aggravated the knee injury, during the closing minutes against Preston, and so has rested up during the first half of the summer.

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The 23-year-old did not play in the first pre-season game, an 8-0 win at Heybridge Swifts last Saturday, and also sat out last night’s 4-0 friendly win at Brentwood Town.

But he is happy with his progress, and targeting a return during the latter stages of the pre-season campaign.

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“I’ve been taking it easy, resting up the knee, but I’m in the last stages of rehabilitation now,” explained Walker.

“It’s just a precaution. There’s no point in me over-doing it, because my knee took quite a bang last season.

“After the Coventry game, I was forced to miss the Chesterfield trip, which I was gutted about, because I’m very proud of my appearance-record since I’ve been at the club.

“I got the knee strapped up, and played with the help of pain-killers for the last four games to help do my bit to keep us up.

“But I jarred it again, late on in the final game against Preston, while twisting to take a cross. It wasn’t as bad as against Coventry, and adrenalin got me through.

“It was feeling a little sore, and tender, so I rested the knee completely for the rest of May, before starting up again in the second week of June.

“The knee has been getting stronger, and I’ve just had a good goalkeeping session with George (Bankole, goalkeeping coach). It’s progressing nicely,” added Walker.

Since his switch from Chelsea, initially on a loan deal at the start of 2013, before making the move permanent a year later, Walker has chalked up 112 league appearances.

He only missed one league game last season (away at Chesterfield), having been ever-present in the previous season’s league campaign.

“Speaking to the manager (Tony Humes) and Tony Flynn (the physio), it’s looking like the Leyton Orient home game might be on the cards for my return (Saturday, July 25). If not, then hopefully the home game against Ipswich (Tuesday, July 28).

“The most important thing is to be fighting fit for the first game of the season, though ideally it would be best to have a couple of pre-season games under my belt, to sharpen up and get my eyes and hands in tune again,” added Walker.

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