Dillon Barnes is a potential Colchester United No. 1

Dillon Barnes in action on his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Picture: STEVE W

Dillon Barnes in action on his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Dillon Barnes showed last weekend that he has the potential to be Colchester United’s new No. 1 keeper, if Sam Walker does leave this summer.

Enfield-born Barnes celebrated his Football League debut with a clean-sheet in the U’s final home game of the season, a goalless draw against Swindon Town last weekend.

Barnes looks set to be handed another first-team chance, in the final game of the 2017-18 campaign at fourth-placed Exeter City in Devon this Saturday.

And with long-term No 1 Walker’s contract expiring this summer, with the 26-year-old looking likely to move elsewhere after rattling up 200 league appearances for the Essex club, Barnes could be the man to step into his sizeable shoes.

The 22-year-old has clearly benefited from a couple of loan deals during the season, in the National League South (sixth tier of English football) at Welling United and Hemel Hempstead Town.

U’s boss John McGreal enthused: “We have monitored Dillon’s progress this season, and he has been loaned out a couple of times to play men’s football.

“He’s a big boy, a confident boy, and he distributes the ball really, really well.

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“We’re hoping he will continue to work hard in training, and let’s see what this summer brings, and what this pre-season brings.

“He could certainly be in and around it.”

Responding to the question of whether Barnes could become a future No. 1, McGreal continued: “Yes, and that’s why we have hand-picked his development this season, knowing a few boys were coming out of contract and the situation with Sam (Walker).

“Sam has been unbelievable again this season.

“We’ve made Sam a good offer, and I’m still waiting for a decision. We’d love him to stay.

“But it’s well done to Dillon (on his League debut).

“He deserves his chance, having gone to different non-league clubs, and it’s been tough for him having to come back and play under-23s.

“He’s been really strong and he deserved his clean-sheet.”

The U’s are 12th in the table going into the final fixture.

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