Mark Cousins likes the sound of the No.1

MARK Cousins has had to bide his time, but now at long last he has a chance to establish himself as Colchester United’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

Cousins, has had to play second fiddle for the bulk of the last three years, behind Ben Williams, but he is set to start the new campaign in the U’s starting line-up following Williams’ confirmed departure earlier in the week.

While Williams has opted to turn down the offer of a new contract, and look for a new club in the Championship, Cousins is hoping to enjoy his first full season as the U’s regular keeper.

It has been a dramatic change of fortunes for Cousins, who only last year was feeling deflated and demoralised as the back-up keeper who travelled to games, but never even got on the bench!

“I was feeling pretty crestfallen towards the end of last season. It wasn’t a good year for me,” admitted Cousins.

“It was a bit disheartening to keep travelling to games, and yet to have no chance of being involved. I felt that my career had gone a bit backwards.

“But now I have a great chance to establish myself as the No. 1.

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“However, I can’t take anything for granted, especially as Carl (Pentney) will be pushing me hard. Carl has been unlucky to be behind Ben and I over the last couple of years, and he will be looking to be involved as well,” added Cousins.

Chelmsford-born Cousins, a product of the U’s Academy, started the U’s first nine league games of last season, after Williams suffered a dehabilitating viral infection during a pre-season tour of Holland.

Cousins impressed in those nine league fixtures, but lost his place after a 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United, coupled with a shoulder injury, in late September.

Williams came in and hardly put a foot wrong for the rest of the season, to such an extent that Cousins only played one more game, a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on April 21.

Ward’s practise of not including a reserve keeper among his five substitutes also meant that Cousins was frozen out of each final 16-man squad.

“I injured my shoulder the day before a game, Ben got back in, and he never looked like giving up the No. 1 shirt,” rued Cousins.

“I never had another opportunity to get back in, but now I hope to get a run of games and establish myself.

“I have learnt off Ben, during these last three years. His main strength is his consistency, and that is something I hope to emulate.

“I think he will do well at a Championship club, and obviously there is interest in Ben, for him to turn down this contract,” added Cousins, who has so far played 35 league games for the U’s.

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