Cousins keen to make it at club he loves

Colchester United keeper Mark Cousins is desperate to make it at the club he loves – and he has a rare opportunity to shine in the Carling Cup tonight.

FRUSTRATED Colchester United keeper Cousins admits he reluctantly considered a move away from the club he loves this summer.

Things change quickly in football though and tonight the 23-year-old has a big opportunity to shine in the Carling Cup first round at Hereford.

The Chelmsford-born keeper was hailed as a bright young prospect when he first broke into the U’s first team at the age of 20 in their Championship relegation season, before making 13 appearances in all competitions the following campaign.

However, a sensational debut season by Ben Williams saw Cousins restricted to just two cup appearances in 2009/10 and left him considering his options.

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“It was a little bit frustrating,” admitted Cousins. “But the way Ben was performing last season – deservedly winning all the player of the year awards – it was hard to complain.

“I did raise the prospect of going out on loan at the end of last season, but when I spoke to Aidy (Boothroyd) he was keen to keep me here.

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“I thought about it and, when the new gaffer (John Ward) took over, I decided that I was determined to stay and fight for my place.”

Little did Cousins know it, but his opportunity would arrive far quicker than anyone expected.

Just four days before the start of the new season, Williams injured his ankle in the Essex Senior Cup final match at AFC Hornchurch and was ruled out for a minimum of two weeks.

Cousins started against Exeter in the club’s League One opener on Saturday – his first game in almost a year for the club – and although the game finished 2-2, there was little he could have done to prevent either goal; one a penalty and the other a close range finish.

“I felt I did alright,” said Cousins. “It’s just a case of taking it game by game now for me.

“I’m from Essex and I love this club. I’ve seen it progress and move on from Layer Road and I’ve always wanted my career to be here.”

The new-look U’s played some attractive football in their 2-2 draw at Exeter and manager John Ward now has some decisions to make as to whether to rest or rotate any of his squad tonight.

As well as the 18 players that featured in the U’s squad on Saturday, Matt Heath and Simon Hackney also travelled down to the south west. All 20 players stayed down in Devon after the match before heading directly on to Hereford today.

As well as Williams, Colchester have two other players out with ankle injuries at present in the form of Steven Gillespie and Ben Coker.

Hereford – who finished 16th in League Two last season – controversially brought in former Barnsley boss Simon Davey as their new manager recently, just weeks after he had been appointed at Darlington. He handed six debuts to new Hereford signings in their 1-0 home win over Crewe at the weekend.

Hereford: Bartlett, Connor; Green, Kovacs, Townsend, Valentine, Rose; Colbeck, Thompson, McQuilkin, Stratford, Gwynne, Lunt, Weir; Fleetwood, Manset, Canham. Malsom.

Colchester: Cousins, Pentney; Wilson, Tierney, Okuonghae, Reid, Baldwin, White, Heath; Izzet, Bond, Perkins, James, Beevers; Henderson, Wordsworth, Odejayi, Vincent, Hackney, Mooney.

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