Keeper Gerken has great belief in U's

COLCHESTER United keeper Dean Gerken, who made a surprise Championship debut on Saturday, believes that the U's have a “massive chance” of establishing themselves as a force at this level.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United keeper Dean Gerken, who made a surprise Championship debut on Saturday, believes that the U's have a “massive chance” of establishing themselves as a force at this level.

Gerken was handed his first league start of the season, because of an injury to senior keeper Aidan Davison, and he responded with an impressive performance in a 2-1 win over visiting QPR.

The 21-year-old did not dream that he would be playing on Saturday, following Davison's 10-out-of-10 display in a battling 1-1 draw at Luton last Tuesday evening.

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But when Davison failed to shrug off a tight groin, manager Geraint Williams had no hesitation in turning to the highly-rated Gerken.

“I thought that Aidan (Davison) was awesome at Luton. Watching from the bench, it was one of the best goalkeeping performances that I had ever seen, and that includes games that I've watched on TV,” admitted Gerken last night.

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“I'll never forget Aidan's series of great saves at Luton. Obviously I thought that there was little chance of me playing against QPR.

“However, Aidan's now 38 and it takes him longer to recover from little niggles than it does for a younger keeper like myself. He was very busy on Tuesday night, and he was feeling very stiff.

“I'm learning off him all the time. He's coaching me well, but I know that I have to be patient to get my chance.

“It was great to make my Championship debut. It's one of the biggest divisions in the world, outside the Premiership, in terms of attendance figures.

“And I'm confident that we can hold our own in this division. We have a very strong starting XI that can compete with most other teams. We just need to keep everyone fit.

“The squad is small, but I still reckon we have a massive chance of doing well this season,” added Gerken.

Southend-born Gerken has had to bide his time at Layer Road, due to the form of the experienced Davison, but the future looks very bright.

He played a small but key role in last season's automatic promotion from League One, stepping into the team for the final three matches when Davison was laid-low with serious food poisoning. He hardly put a foot wrong in the wins at Bournemouth and over Rotherham, and the final day 0-0 draw at Yeovil.

“I need to be patient. That seems to be the story of my life at the moment!” admitted Gerken.

“It's a big leap up to the Championship, from League One, and it took us time to get going. We have realised that we can't make the same mistakes as last season and get away with them.

“It will look very good on my CV if I can play 20 or 30 games in the Championship. I'm up for the challenge, and I felt confident against QPR. I enjoyed it.

“The defence has been magnificent for the last couple of years. Although we're not keeping clean-sheets so far this season, the defence is still doing superbly against some very talented players.

“I didn't have that much to do against QPR. I'd like to have a run of two or three games, to improve my match sharpness, but that really depends on Aidan's injury. I'm ready if needed,” added Gerken.

The U's lost their first four games in the Championship, and also bowed out of the Carling Cup at MK Dons - Gerken played in that 1-0 defeat at the National Hockey Stadium.

But they have since risen from 23rd to 16th in the table, after collecting 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four matches.

Hopes of a first clean-sheet of the campaign were dashed by Wayne Brown's 76th minute own goal on Saturday, although that was not enough to save basement club QPR, due to earlier strikes from Chris Iwelumo and Richard Garcia.

The U's are now turning their attention towards this Saturday and a first-ever meeting with Leicester City, at the Walkers Stadium.

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