Ex-U’s stalwart Wilkins praises Coker

BURY Town boss Richard Wilkins is not surprised with the rapid progress that ex-Blues left-back Ben Coker has made at Colchester United.

BURY Town boss Richard Wilkins is not surprised with the rapid progress that ex-Blues left-back Ben Coker has made at Colchester United.

The U’s visit Ram Meadow for a pre-season friendly this afternoon (kick-off 3pm), as part of the deal that saw Coker join the Essex club from Bury in the summer of 2010.

Coker went on to rattle up 20 senior appearances for United during the second half of last term, following fellow left-back Marc Tierney’s move to Norwich City. He was also named the U’s Young Player of the Year.

“I’m not surprised that Ben has done so well, so quickly, because I knew that he always had the right attitude and temperament to make the grade in the Football League,” explained Wilkins last night.


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“That’s why I kept mentioning him to Joe Dunne (assistant manager at Colchester), although it took a little time to get the deal on.

“I thought if Ben got his chance, then he would take it, and he got that opportunity with Tierney leaving.

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“He’s a smashing lad. He’s very dedicated and is not big-headed. He still meets up with some of the lads at Bury and has not gone big-time on them.

“I think it has turned out to be a good deal for both clubs, and for Ben,” added Wilkins.

Bury boss Wilkins himself played a large part of his career at Colchester, and was the skipper when the U’s won promotion to the third tier via the play-offs in 1998.

Coker originally joined Bury from Barton Rovers in the autumn of 2008, but less than two years later he was on his way to the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

The 23-year-old had a month’s loan spell at Chelmsford City before making his Football League debut in the U’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth last January.

The U’s have enjoyed a successful pre-season to date, and are still unbeaten after wins at Maldon & Tiptree, SDC Putton (Holland), Braintree Town and Woodbridge Town. They also drew 1-1 with Jong FC Utrecht during their Dutch trip.

Keeper Ben Williams is set to miss the start of the season, as he recovers from a viral infection, so Mark Cousins and Carl Pentney will continue to vie for the starting berth ahead of the opening day trip to Preston on August 6.

U’s boss John Ward is set to bring a very strong first-team squad to Bury, who were narrowly beaten 3-2 by Ipswich Town in a friendly on Wednesday evening..

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