“I am really impressed with the business that the club has done” – Colchester United keeper Sam Walker
- Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd
Colchester United’s new boss, John McGreal, has been busy recruiting new players galore this summer, but the return of an old face will have been given him the most pleasure of all – Sam Walker is back!
There is a school of thought that suggests the U’s would not have endured relegation to League Two last season, if Walker had again been a mainstay of the team, the last line of defence.
Walker was troubled by a knee injury towards the back-end of the previous 2014-15 season, when he battled through the pain barrier to keep the U’s in the third tier, by the skin of their teeth (thanks to a final-day win over Preston). In fact, he only missed one game that term, a miserable 6-0 drubbing at Chesterfield.
Alas, the 24-year-old suffered a big setback during the first week of last season, suffering a serious knee injury before the hour mark of a League Cup defeat to Reading.
That ruled him out for the whole campaign, and so he was powerless to prevent the U’s from tumbling into League Two.
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But, after nearly a year on the sidelines, the ex-Chelsea trainee made a welcome return to competitive action by playing the first half of the U’s pre-season game at Needham Market last Tuesday night, which the visitors won 4-1.
“The summer has gone really well for me,” enthused Walker, who signed a new contract last December to keep him at the U’s until the summer of 2018.
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An upbeat Walker continued: “I’ve been at the club most of the time, recuperating, mentally more than anything. I’ve been back fully training for a while, and back to full fitness.
“It’s just a case of easing myself back in. I’ve done a couple of weeks of full-on intensive pre-season training, so I’ve been testing the knee.
“And the knee has been good. I haven’t missed a day’s training or even missed a session.
“I’ve felt good and strong at the end of every session. It’s just a case of managing the workload.
“It was a good to get a few minutes this week, and I want to gradually build it up. I am being led by the coaching staff, (goalkeeping coach) George (Bankole) and the physio (Tony Flynn).
“I haven’t had a problem with the mental side of it either. In fact, pre-season has really exceeded my own expectations so far.
“I thought it might be a bit hit and miss, and that I might have had to miss a few sessions. But that hasn’t been the case.
“Now I’m looking forward to starting the new season.
“There are still three or four weeks to go, until then, but I’m still aiming to be fit for Hartlepool away, on the opening day. That’s always been the target,” concluded Walker.
Ex-Chelsea trainee Walker, who first arrived on loan to the U’s in January, 2013, has already rattled up 118 first team appearances for the club, despite last season’s injury woe.
And he is oozing confidence, for the new season.
“We’ve got a big squad, and I am really impressed with the business that the club has done this summer,” enthused Walker.
“We’ve got several new players who haven’t spent the last few years here at the bottom of the league. They’ve brought a buzz about the place.”