Mark Cousins set to be U’s number one after Ben Williams confirms his departure

MARK Cousins will be handed the No.1 shirt at Colchester United next season after Ben Williams officially became a free agent.

Following three seasons in north Essex, Williams – after much thought – eventually decided to turn down the offer of a new deal at the League One club in order to pursue his ambition of playing in the Championship.

The former Manchester United trainee made over 120 appearances for the U’s under the management of Aidy Boothroyd and current boss John Ward.

The latter, who spoke at length with Williams yesterday, said: “Ben wants to play in the Championship and feels that now is his best opportunity.

“We gave him quite a lot of leeway in terms of his new contract, three weeks more than we had to, but we have to respect the decision he’s made.

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“I’ve said all along though that if he doesn’t sign we will give Mark Cousins his go.

“The supporters know as well as I do that we have got a very good keeper, more than capable in fact, and now it is his time.

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“He has improved in all the time I’ve been here, he works extremely hard and I’m pleased for him that he’s now going to get this opportunity.”

He added: “We’ve also got young Carl Pentney and young Shaun Phillips underneath so we’ll work hard on the goalkeeping position and Mark will step forward I’m sure.”

– For all the latest on this story, see tomorrow’s EADT

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