‘I hope to stake a claim’ – Dillon Barnes on Colchester United’s No. 1 berth

Dillon Barnes gathers the ball during his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Pictu

Dillon Barnes gathers the ball during his Football League debut against Swindon last Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Dillon Barnes will be looking to stake his claim to be Colchester United’s No. 1 for next season, after keeping a clean-sheet on his Football League debut in Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate against visiting Swindon.

The 22-year-old was finally handed his first League start, after three years at the club, having previously been a regular on the bench as well as having loan stints at Welling United and Hemel Hempstead Town.

“I enjoyed it so much, massively. Everyone has come out and done a good job,” enthused Barnes, who was full of smiles after the final whistle.

“I was really excited to be fair, leading up to it, and I felt good during the game, so it was really good.

“To keep a clean-sheet was a bonus, I’m happy with it. The boys helped as well, because there were no shots.

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“I had more kicking to do than actual saves, but I felt good and it felt proper.

“This is what I have been striving for, for such a long time. I went on loan throughout the season to a couple of clubs, and have been working hard in the gym, so I’m delighted to get my opportunity.

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“I’ve learnt so much from Sam (Walker). He’s a top keeper. I enjoy watching him and I have learnt so much from him, throughout the season.

“I’ve also been working closely with (goalkeeping coach) Rene (Gilmartin). I’m so happy to have him, in-and-around.

“Rene is like a big uncle to me, he’s helped me out a lot.

“My aim now is to establish myself, by working hard in pre-season and the off-season, and then to see what happens.

“I hope to stake a claim next season, hopefully it goes my way,” added Barnes.

Enfield-born Barnes began his career with spells at Barnet and Fulham, without featuring in the first-team, and has also had to be patient at Colchester.

But there was no time to get nervous on Saturday, because he was not informed that he would be starting at Swindon, to make his League debut, until 90 minutes before kick-off.

“I found out at 1.30pm today, that I was starting, at the team meeting,” revealed Barnes.

“That wasn’t a problem. I don’t mind knowing a few days in advance, or just a few hours.

“It was a good game to come into, I could get a feel for it. There was not much to do, but what I did do, I was assured.”

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